Ever since its premiere in 1978, ABC’s ’20/20′ has been a staple of the newsmagazine genre, becoming more and more popular with each passing season. With two-hour-long event specials profiling some of the most significant cases in American history, including interviews with those directly involved in the matter, it is the go-to show for most true-crime lovers. So, its latest hard-hitting episode, ‘While He Was Sleeping,’ chronicling the 1997 murder of Yarmila Falater, is no different. And now, if you’re here curious to know all the nitty-gritty details about her case, you’ve come to the right place.
How Did Yarmila Falater Die?
By all accounts, Yarmila Falater, a preschool teacher aide, had made a good life for herself in Phoenix, Arizona. She had married her high school sweetheart, Scott Louis Falater, and was a mother of two. In fact, as per reports, their marriage appeared to be very loving and kind, with no history of money problems, infidelity, or abuse. They were even active in their community Mormon Church. However, that changed on the night of January 16, 1997, at about 10 p.m., when the Falater’s neighbors started hearing what can only be described as moaning or crying coming from outside. They subsequently called the authorities.
When the police responded to the call and arrived at the couple’s shared home, they found Yarmila floating in the family pool. Scott Falater and their two children were inside the house. An autopsy determined that the working mother had been stabbed a total of 44 times with a hunting knife before being drowned. As per official documents, the neighbors had heard screaming and dogs barking before they eventually dialed 911. “I don’t know what the problem is, I don’t know it’s weird, and I’m concerned,” they told the dispatcher after revealing that it looked like someone was holding Yarmila underwater. Their exact words were, “The husband just threw, I believe the wife, into the pool.”
Who Killed Yarmila Falater?
At 1:53 a.m. that same night, the police began interrogating Scott Falater in connection to his wife’s brutal murder. After all, not only did the witness reports claim that they had seen him drag Yarmila to the pool and drown her, but they also said that they saw Scott exit their home with gloves on his hands before the act. According to police reports, first responders also noticed evidence that pointed towards Scott having hidden his clothes and the murder weapon in his car before washing off the blood from his body and going to his room. But the question of motive remained unanswered. In fact, it is a mystery to this day, more than 20 years later.
Scott Falater immediately denied remembering the event, continuously saying that he loved her and that he couldn’t recall anything that transpired after he got into bed at around 9:30 or 10 p.m. Instead, he admitted that he suffered from a sleep disorder called somnambulism – sleepwalking – and that his wife’s murder could have happened then. “I remember I was in bed,” Scott told the officers when asked what he did recall. “I heard the dogs go crazy, and I heard all the voices, came down, and you guys were all over me.” The officers had trouble believing him, though, especially as Scott still had bloodstains on his neck. Thus came his arrest for murder.
When Scott stood trial in 1999, the main topic was, of course, his defense of sleepwalking. Multiple medical experts took to the stands and talked about the disorder, saying that it usually involves people engaging in routine, day-to-day activities. The more complex the work someone is doing, they said, the less likely they are sleepwalking. Although, other professionals took Scott’s side, revealing that it is rare but possible for someone to commit such an act of violence while being unconscious. The prosecutors also claimed that Scott killed Yarmila in a fit of rage after an argument. Therefore, in June 1999, Scott was found guilty of murder.
Read More: Where Is Scott Falater Now?