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Traveling pedestrian's wife is no dummy: she's a mannequin

TIMES STAFF WRITER
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ADAMS — Residents of Watertown and the southern part of Jefferson County may see a man and his mannequin traveling along Route 11 and in the city.


A man who goes by the name of Ned Nefer, 38, is traveling from Syracuse to Watertown by foot. He is pushing Teagan, a 6-foot mannequin that Mr. Nefer claims is his wife.


Mr. Nefer said he was born in Syracuse and in the 1980s spent some time at the Children's Home of Jefferson County in Watertown, where he said he met Teagan when she was just a head. He said he built a body for the mannequin and the two were "married" Oct. 31, 1986, in California.


They are traveling to the former Children's Home on State Street, where the two met, he said. Mr. Nefer said he has not been back to Watertown since 1988.


Jefferson County Sheriff John P. Burns said Nefer is a shortened version of Ned's real last name but he does have a valid state Department of Motor Vehicles identification card, not a license. He said a deputy responded to a call Tuesday night in Ellisburg, but Mr. Nefer was not taken into custody and is not deemed a threat.


Lisa Spear, principal social welfare examiner for the Jefferson County Department of Social Services, stopped to talk with him Wednesday morning while he was in Adams Center. Ms. Spear is not a mental health professional; she deals with fraud investigations for the department. She said she deals with a variety of cases that include people who have mental illnesses, but has never met anyone like Mr. Nefer.


"This is definitely one of the very oddest things I've ever come across, but he seems very happy," she said. "I wouldn't classify him as dangerous at all. He seemed quite happy in his own little world."


DSS Commissioner Laura C. Cerow said, however, that the department is not officially saying that Mr. Nefer is not dangerous.


Ms. Spear said she heard he may have been married to a human but that his wife had died.


"I'm not sure if this is his way of dealing with the death or that this is some way of coping with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)," she said. "But he seemed sincere."


The couple and their journey is a hit on the Internet. A Facebook page has been created for them and has nearly 2,000 followers. Several videos of their journey are posted on YouTube.


"I've heard about the Facebook page and that's great, I guess, but she's really the star," Mr. Nefer said pointing to Teagan.


Mr. Nefer said he has 16 disposable cameras with him and takes pictures of town and village signs that he passes, rock formations and cemeteries.


"We both really love the outdoors," he said. "I hope it doesn't rain because when it does, it fogs up the camera and the pictures don't come out really good. We want to take a picture outside of the old Children's Home on State Street."

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