Home » Episodes » Episode 58 – Las Vegas, NV & Columbus, OH (We’re Back Bitches!)

Rachel takes us to Vegas to share a listener suggestion – the horrible story of the Nevada Nuclear Testing Site that caused so much pain for people across multiple states. Then Emily heads to Columbus, Ohio to share the story of Billy Milligan, the serial rapist who had Disassociative Identity Disorder (DID) and claimed one of his other personalities perpetrated the crimes.  Hopefully, you’re horrified!

Nevada Nuclear Testing Site

Our story begins in 1946. For those who are new to history, this is just a year after the end of WWII, and America is not feeling awesome about putting their trust in other countries. So, under Harry Truman, the government established the Atomic Energy Commission, or AEC, to monitor peacetime development of atomic technology and science. In the 50s, the US started getting really worried about what the Soviet Union was doing with their nukes, and you know, ‘Merica or whatever, they started a nuclear arms race because if you’re going to have nukes, we’re going to have bigger, better nukes!

But in order to get just the best atomic weapons, the US government had to find the perfect testing place. The AEC chose the Las Vegas Bombing and Gunnery Range. On August 1, 1950, a couple of big-deal physicists, Enrico Fermi and Edward Teller, concluded that there was risk at this testing location. But the scientists resolved that some protective measures could be taken to mitigate this risk – like if a maximum yield quantity was observed, and if testing dates were chosen by meteorologists, so weather would not negatively impact dispersion of radioactive fallout.

And everyone was like, “cool cool cool, Science Dudes. We will do that for sure.”

And on December 18, 1950, President Truman dedicated a 680-square-mile portion of this land for atomic testing. Wasting no time, in January of 1951, the testing began, and between 1951 and 1992, the US government conducted 1,021 nuclear tests at the Nevada Test Site. Many of them – 921 to be exact, were conducted underground. But the other 100 tests were atmospheric. That meant that atomic bombs were dropped from planes, hot air balloons, and towers. That’s right, in the air near Vegas. Because that seems like a great idea. 

But, like many other stories on this podcast, the road to hell was paved with good intentions. The AEC wanted the NTS to be a test-site for quickie experiments with little nuclear bombs. AKA, let’s do these experiments on a small scale so that we can develop bigger bombs and nuclear weapons. 

Spoiler alert: The tests in the atmosphere were not small.

Obviously, we don’t have time to go through all 1000+ experiments on this episode, but we are going to talk about a couple of them.

On January 27, 1951, the first atomic bomb at the NTS was detonated. The explosion was so big that its flash could be seen from San Francisco.

Nevada Test Site - Wikipedia

A couple years later, on May 19, 1953, the US government began a nuclear test nicknamed “Harry.” Harry was a series of 11 nuclear weapon tests, and let’s just say Harry was a big ‘un. A 32-kiloton nuclear bomb was detonated – which was the most destructive pure fission weapon that had been created at that point in history. 

And, you know how we love when science-y jobs are given to people who aren’t science-y? For example, you and I should not be given scientific responsibility on a nuclear level. And, although the physicists recommended meteorologists be consulted before testing dates were chosen, there were some miscalculations and some changes in the direction of the wind, leading to more radioactive fallout than any other test that had been completed on US soil. So this test was nicknamed “Dirty Harry.”

And when I say the fallout was huge, I mean that there was a THREE-HUNDRED MILE RADIUS of radiation exposure. Radiation counters were maxed out, even in St. George, Utah. And, you’re going to love this – the AEC didn’t tell anyone to shelter. Kids were still chilling at recess, playing hopscotch and living their best lives, an hour after the radiation settled. And it took several more hours before the message came that maybe people should get inside.

Obviously, people started to feel pretty sus. The AEC was all, “we’ve got this.” What’s that? They came out with corrective measures or preventative measures? No, no my friend. They put out an educational film, explaining to the public that they were safe.

We know a lot more about the dangers of radiation now than they knew in the ‘50s, but as you can imagine, consequences for people working on/near Dirty Harry were severe. Also, there were consequences for people just living in and around Vegas, who had nothing to do with government experiments.

Nuclear Weapon History: Fall-Out from The First Nevada Tests | Time

These people were nicknamed “downwinders,” because essentially, they lived downwind from the nuclear test sites. And they weren’t just in Vegas – people living in Arizona and Utah between 1951 and 1957 were also considered downwinders. And, on top of that, the Nevada Nuclear Test Site was in a pretty rural area of the state, meaning that the government had a hard time locating all the families that may have been impacted by the nuclear activity. No one was warned about radioactive fallout.

In addition, a lot of these downwinders were farmers and ranchers…. And you know what? They produced milk, beef, veggies, etc., all of which were impacted by the radiation. And this is the ‘50s. People were for sure eating beef and drinking milk.

Throughout the 50s, mushroom clouds from the 100 tests in the atmosphere could be seen from almost 100 miles away. Obviously, there were seismic effects, including mushroom clouds. And there were also health effects, like significant increases in cancers, which lasted for decades after atmospheric testing was banned.

Atmospheric testing was banned in 1963, but, like I said a minute ago, the health and environmental concerns were ongoing. And, I know this is going to shock you, but the government was all, “hmmmm, downwinders. Are you sure you got that cancer from us?” All in all, between 1951 and 1962, nearly 150 million curies of radioactive material were released via the atmospheric tests. Putting that into Horrible History language – that amount of radiation is about 20 times greater than the radiation that was released during Chernobyl. 

Let’s talk about ways that people were exposed to radiation. Of course, people working on the testing site were exposed directly. Soldiers could be required to watch the blasts for training purposes or even to enter the contaminated areas after the tests and clean up the radioactive test objects. These individuals were nicknamed “atomic veterans.” Of course, Morbid Curious civilians were exposed by going to watch the blasts from what they thought was a safe distance. These people (AKA our people) even brought little breakfast picnics and chatted excitedly while watching the explosions.

Eventually, people did start to learn a little more about radiation and they tried staying inside. But radiation is like a honey badger – it don’t give a shit about your protective walls. Plus remember, the crops and livestock of local farmers were exposed, meaning even if you and your family were inside, you could have ingested the radiation. And a lot of people impacted were children.

Interestingly, the case that brought the most notoriety to the downwinders was thanks to Hollywood. The 1956 movie The Conqueror, which starred John Wayne, Agnes Moorhead, Susan Hayward, and Pedro Armendáriz, was filmed near St. George, Utah. And wouldn’t you know it, many people who worked on that film ended up getting cancer in the subsequent years. Like… a lot of people. 91 out of 220 total cast and crew developed cancer by 1980, and 46 died. Even John Wayne passed from stomach cancer in 1979. John Wayne had already recovered from lung cancer. And, adding insult to injury, he had been visited by lots of family members while he was working on the set of the Conqueror… and many of these family members, including his son and brother, also developed cancer or tumors, although luckily, they did not die from their exposure to the radiation. 

Of course, rumors flew about John Wayne’s death, with a Pentagon scientist famously declaring, “Please God, don’t let us have killed John Wayne.” Now, realistically, John Wayne’s cancer was most likely caused primarily by smoking cigarettes. But, this movie did alert the general public to concerns that less-famous Downwinders had been exclaiming about for years.

And like I alluded to previously, the effects from the Nevada Nuclear Test Site lasted for decades. In the 1970s, downwinder communities in Utah full of Mormons had unheard of leukemia rates – like, 5x the rates of cancer developed in other communities. And, this is terrible, there were notable pockets of thyroid cancer in young children that spiked in areas which had previously not experienced childhood cancers.

In 1979, Ted Kennedy sponsored the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, which urged the government to pay damages to certain individuals impacted by the fallout from the Test Site, but it didn’t pass.

A whole decade later, the Act finally passed and was signed into law by George H.W. Bush in 1990. The compensation was between $50,000 and $100,000, and was offered to on-site workers, downwinders, and others impacted and exposed to cancer. The government thought only a few hundred people were entitled to compensation, but as of 2018, the number of approved claims exceeded 34,000.

Sadly, Jennifer shared with us in her email that she lost her grandfather to cancer in 1989, when she was only 4. And wayyyyyy too late, in 2000, her grandmother was reimbursed for their family’s loss. However, second-generation and third-generation downwinders are having to fight the government hard for reparations. 

Believe it or not, the crazy-ass mushroom clouds that appeared in the 1950s led to a huge increase in Las Vegas tourism. Some casinos would even host “dawn parties,” including views of the tests and atomic-themed cocktails.  

The last underground nuclear test was completed on September 23, 1992. The Nevada Nuclear Testing site is no longer used for such purposes, but is still used for National Security needs and could be re-authorized for nuclear testing, should the government deem it necessary. And you know what? We can visit it. They offer monthly tours.

And that is the horrible story of the Nevada Nuclear Testing Site. Thank you so much Jennifer for the recommendation!

Billy Milligan & DID

I want to preface this story with a little note: on Horrible History we work hard to recognize victims as much as humanly possible. But today we are pondering an interesting question. What do we do when there is some question around whether or not the perpetrator is the villain or the victim?

Today our horrible story asks: is our perpetrator an expert actor or a man so disturbed that his mind fractured… into 24 different personalities. AND if it is the latter… how does a jury address a criminal with Dissociative Identity Disorder (previously known as multiple personalities) when they claim that it was another personality that did the crimes. That is the question to keep in mind today as we discuss the story of Billy Milligan, also known as the Campus Rapist of Columbus, Ohio, and also known as Allen, Arthur, David, Ragen, Christene and 17 other names.

So, let’s talk about this horrible history. Or should I say horrible histories – because there are at least two horrible components to this story, maybe even three.

Let’s begin in 1975, with the crimes in question – those that “Billy” himself committed. Billy’s first arrest was for rape and armed robbery – there is so little information about this crime out there – it’s quite overshadowed by the next crime – but apparently he helped plan and implement a drug store robbery. I’m not sure where the rape came into the picture, but he was imprisoned at Lebanon Correctional Institution in Ohio. Of course, he was released on parole in early 1977. By October 1977, Ohio State University was plagued with a series of rapes that had the campus on high alert.

The first rape was on Oct. 14, 1977. Milligan pointed a gun at an OSU optometry student and took her from a campus parking lot to a wooded area. When it was over, he made her write a check and cash it for him. The second rape was on Oct. 22. The third on Oct. 26. 

Rumors were running rampant around campus about who it was, when it was happening, etc. It actually only lasted over the course of 12 days, but those twelve days were terrifying. Luckily, Billy was not a prolific rapist, but he had something about him that was disarming. The three women who were assaulted by him all said he had a certain charm about him, but that he seemed quite odd. One of the women mentioned that her rapist had a German accent.

Eventually, they brought one of the victims into the police station and showed her mug shots of sex offenders and she identified Billy Milligan. Then they lifted his fingerprints off of another victim’s car and just like that, after 12 days of terror, he was caught. Physically he was definitely the one who raped these women – so he was arrested again. And, since he used a gun during the crime and guns were found in a search of his residence, he had violated his parole as well. He was indicted on “three counts of kidnapping, three counts of aggravated robbery and four counts of rape.” Everyone who knew Billy growing up was SHOCKED. They knew a sweet kind Billy, a little odd, but not capable of being a rapist.

Monsters Inside: The 24 Faces of Billy Milligan (TV Mini Series 2021) - IMDb

He was placed in the Ohio State Penitentiary pending trial – and when they brought him to the courthouse for arraignment people noticed that he seemed lost. Completely unaware of what was going on, asking why he was there, etc. In the course of preparing his defense, he underwent a psychological examination by Dr. Willis C. Driscoll, who diagnosed Milligan with acute schizophrenia. PER USUAL.

So you probably noticed that I said: he was definitely physically there – but the question started being asked… was he there mentally? When they questioned him he was extremely confused, and claimed he had absolutely no recollection of the incidents. Allegedly. Some of the psychiatrists and psychologists charged with identifying whether or not Billy was fit for trial started to suspect something was wrong. That schizophrenia was not the culprit.  

So, let’s rewind and talk about Billy – as I mentioned, a man who allegedly had DID. If you know nothing else about DID, here’s a basic idea: DID is a mental disorder characterized by the maintenance of at least two distinct and relatively enduring personality states. The disorder is accompanied by memory gaps beyond what would be explained by ordinary forgetfulness.

The other thing to know about DID is that it regularly comes about as a reaction to trauma. Typically child abuse – child abuse that is better known as actual torture. So, people in these situations disassociate from the horrific experiences just to survive it.

Unfortunately, Billy Milligan experienced this kind of trauma.

Here’s the second bit of horrible that we are going to talk about today. The horrible that was inflicted on Billy as a child.

Billy was born to Dorothy Sands and John Morrison on February 14, 1955, in Miami, Florida. Billy’s dad worked as a comedian, struggled with depression and was heavily dependent on alcohol. All of this resulted in John completing suicide when Billy was just 4 years old. After this, his mom remarried her ex-husband, Dick Jonas (presumably no relation to the Jo Bros), but the marriage ended soon after. In 1963, Sands married again, this time to a man named Chalmer Milligan.

Billy Milligan's Parents: Is Chalmer Milligan Dead or Alive? Monsters  Inside Update
L to R: Challa, Billy, Dorothy, Jim, Chalmer, Kathy

Chalmer was… a very bad man.

He was an Army veteran and had two daughters: Challa, who was around Billy’s age, and another who worked as a nurse. Dorothy and Chalmer married in 1963 and while Dorothy adopted Challa, Chalmer adopted her three kids. From the outside looking in, it probably seemed that Chalmer was a great fit for the family, but he had dark secrets and would regularly take Billy to the barn and spend hours abusing him. Billy was 8 years old.

There were instances of Chalmer sodomizing Billy, beating him, hanging him by his toes and fingers, and burying him alive. Chalmer would put a metal pipe with a hole in it over Billy’s face while he was buried and then pee into the pipe so that it would go through the pipe and one to Billy’s face.

Chalmer would tell him that if Billy told anyone about what was happening or did anything wrong (anything!) he’d kill him. He got the worst of it – but even his siblings experienced beatings. His brother Jim noted how Chalmer would put a piece of foam up against their head and then hit the foam with something hard… so it wouldn’t leave a mark, but it would hurt badly. Then he would say “if you tell anyone I’ll do this to your mother and your sisters.”

This was the point in his life when his mind fractured. And once that happened, he ran into trouble at every turn. First he was suspended from junior high school because he went into trances and wandered around. When he was interviewed later he described instances from this time where he’d be in class and all of a sudden would “fall asleep” and then wake up in a totally different place and time. He had no idea why this was happening…  His parents committed him to a state mental hospital on the Hilltop in Columbus where hysterical neurosis was diagnosed.

The hospital kicked him out three months later because his behavior was too disruptive. Lancaster High School expelled him in 1972, so he joined the Navy. The Navy discharged him a month later because he couldn’t adapt to Navy life.

All throughout these issues Billy had some odd quirks, as I’ve noted a couple of times. But his family just thought it was just how he was. His siblings said a lot that he was “just good with accents.” Or sometimes he’d speak in an odd language and they wouldn’t know what he was talking about…

So, fast back forward to Oct. 1977 and it’s time for them to decide if Billy Milligan was mentally capable of standing trial. The judge decided to do a much deeper psych eval than normal for three reasons. 1) Billy maintained that he didn’t know why he was there, 2) at one point he tried to complete suicide by pulling a toilet off the wall and using the porcelain shards to cut himself and 3) people noticed these weird little quirks – that it seemed like sometimes they’d be talking to different people.

So they called in a special group of psychiatrists to run tests. Interestingly, one psychiatrist had Billy do art therapy, and they noticed that he drew in very different ways – some days they would look like beautiful paintings and others like cartoon drawings. Almost like sometimes he had different capabilities or styles. So, a woman named Dr. Dorothy Turner came over and spent considerable time with Billy and after spending time she was super confused.

Billy Milligan Billy Milligan Paintings and History - celebrities 2022

She tried to give him a Rorschach test (because she was an expert in it) and there were so many disjointed answers that it was unusable. They found that during testing he would have extreme shifts in his IQ. Sometimes he would test as if he was mentally handicapped and sometimes it would be genius level. They did an EEG and tested the brain waves – those tests showed that the person being tested was much younger than Billy was and then they started to realize that this person’s brain was doing different things at different times. There is on camera footage from this time of him saying things like “It still bothers me when they call me Billy. I’m not Billy.”

As one of the psychiatrists said, “You’d be talking to him, and suddenly his eyes would roll back in his head and his eyes would flutter and then suddenly you’d be talking to someone completely different.”

This is why the question of whether or not they could charge Billy with rape when he was experiencing fractured personalities came up. Because the way they described DID was that someone with DID can lose a lot of time. Can “wake up” and not know where they are or how they got there, they have lost time, etc. So, should they dismiss Billy’s charges because of this? Should he be innocent because of his disorder? Well, as with most legal situations, it was a complex question with an even more complex answer… A lot of people didn’t even believe “multiple personalities” was a real thing. And on top of that, no one had ever been acquitted based on having DID before, so they weren’t sure if it met the legal requirements of “insanity.” 

So, Dr. Turner and her team set out to prove that he really had this psychiatric disorder. In this documentary that I watched there were probably half a dozen psychiatrists and they were skeptical. SO, they did a LOT of clinical work. They wanted to know if this person was putting on an act in order to escape the charges.

As a note, a lot of people were thinking it might be an act because 1976 was the year that the book and TV show Sybil came out. Sybil was a real person who had DID and then had books and movies made about her… but, because of the fact that DID was in the zeitgeist at the time, a lot of people thought he just heard about DID and thought “hey I will fake that so they can’t put me in jail.”

So they allowed the prosecutors to meet Billy because they thought that they’d likely just be able to SEE it. People got more and more convinced – and after extensive interviewing they all started to believe that it wasn’t an act. Then they reached out to the doctor that treated Sybil, Dr. Connie Wilbur, and asked her opinion. She agreed to meet with Billy and see if she thought he had DID.

When she met with him, she met… not Billy. She met Arthur. And over the course of her time with Billy, she met all 24 personalities. Let’s talk about them, shall we?

Arthur is an extremely sophisticated and educated Englishman (so he spoke in a British Accent). An expert in science and medicine, with a focus on hematology. He is in “the spot” – that is, in charge of the shared body – during times that required intellectual thinking. Arthur is one of only two personalities who could classify a person in the group as an undesirable AND he chose who was going to come to be on the spot.

Arthur explained that after all of this trauma and the torture that Chalmer put him through, Billy tried to complete suicide and that was when he splintered to survive (or as Arthur would say “that’s when I had to step in and put Billy to sleep”).

So, here are all of the other personalities that the doctors came to know:

  • Ragen Vadascovinich is the “keeper of hate”. His name comes from the words “rage again”. Ragen describes himself as Yugoslavian, has a Slavic accent and can write and speak in Serbo-Croatian. He controls the spot in dangerous times and can designate group members as “undesirable”. He admitted committing robbery in order to support “the family”, but had no knowledge of the rapes.
  • Allen is a con man and a manipulator. He is the most common person to talk to the outside world. He plays the drums and paints portraits. Also the only right-handed self. He is the only personality that smokes cigarettes.
  • Tommy is the escape artist; he is often confused with Allen. Also, he plays the tenor sax and is an electronics expert. Plus, he is also a painter, specializing in landscapes.
  • Danny is afraid of people, especially men. He only paints still lifes, saying that this was because Chalmer made him dig his own grave and buried him in it.
  • David, age eight, is the “keeper of pain”. He comes to the spot to take the pain of the others. So, he remembers all of the horrible things that have happened.
  • Christene, age three, was the one who would stand in the corner in school when “Billy” would get in trouble. She has dyslexia, but Arthur taught her to read and write. Ragen has a special bond with her.
  • Christopher, Christene’s brother, plays the harmonica.
  • Adalana, a lesbian, cooks and cleans house for the others, and writes poetry.

There were also a group of people labeled “undesirable” and that’s because they apparently broke the rules that Ragen and Arthur laid out. These alters were no longer allowed “on the spot” (that is, to hold consciousness) and only revealed themselves after Milligan was sent to the hospital.

  • Phil is a thug and took part in planning some small time crimes. Has a Brooklyn accent. Marked due to him being a criminal.
  • Kevin is a criminal planner; he helped devise a plan to rob a drug store. Labeled also because he is a criminal.
  • Walter is Australian. He calls himself a big-game hunter and has an excellent sense of direction. Was often used as a spotter. He was labeled because he shot and killed a crow.
  • April only has thoughts about destroying Billy’s stepfather. Declared an Undesirable when she convinced Ragen to kill Chalmer. Luckily though Arthur was able to talk him out of it at the last second.
  • Samuel is the Jewish person. He is the only one who believes in God. Was marked because he sold some of the other people’s personal paintings.
  • Mark is the workhorse. He is often referred to as the zombie because he does nothing unless he is told, and will stare at walls when bored.
  • Steve is the impostor, he uses imitations for comedy. Steve never accepted that he was an MP. He was made to be undesirable because his comedy caused the family problems.
  • Lee is the prankster and his practical jokes normally get the family into trouble. He does not care about consequences for his actions. He was made an undesirable because one of his jokes put them into solitary confinement.
  • Jason is the pressure valve. He was used at the beginning to release tension for the family, but he caused them to get into too much trouble and was marked as an undesirable.
  • Bobby always dreams of leading some adventure or fixing some global crisis, but he has no ambitions and was labeled due to that fact.
  • Shawn, who is four and deaf, makes buzzing sounds so he can feel the vibration in his head. He was labeled an undesirable because there was no benefit from being deaf later on in life. (Even though he is an undesirable he was never cast into the shadows beyond the spot; he was just never allowed to take the spot.)
  • Martin is a snob, from New York. He wants things just handed over to him without earning them.
  • Timothy worked in a florist shop until he encountered a gay man who flirted with him. He went into his own world after that.
A depiction of some of Billy’s personalities

After all of this… everyone was in basic agreement. Billy HAD DID. But, based on interviews, it seemed that Ragen was actually the one who wanted to rob people and then Adalana was the one who committed the rapes. She was lonely and wanted to be held by someone.

Of course, legally, the psychiatrists couldn’t say “he’s mentally ill, he’s innocent” the legal system had to do that. The psychiatrists gave the expert opinion that he indeed had DID and now the justice system had to decide if that diagnosis of DID meant he was guilty or innocent. Because, how do they jail Ragen or Adalana? Does one part of a person’s persona speak for all of the person when in this situation?

Well, legally, the insanity statute requires answering three questions. Did the person know what they were doing? Did they know that thing was wrong? Is the person capable of not doing it again?

Ultimately, Franklin County Common Judge Jay Flowers heard all of the testimony and expert opinion and… found Billy not guilty by reason of insanity due to multiple personalities. He was the first ever person to be acquitted for this reason.

Of course, being innocent because of insanity does not equal freedom, so Billy was sent to the Athens Mental Health Center in southeastern Ohio. Here, they planned to treat Billy by “fusing” him (aka combining all of his personalities into one). This was to be done by Dr. David Caul, which, fun fact, Dr. Caul was not formally trained as a psychiatrist. He learned his practice in the prison. So, one thing to take into consideration with all of what is to come is that Dr. Caul had something to gain. This was a high-profile platform of sorts, which is an issue because it could influence his motivation and taint his results.

But, let’s talk more about fusing. There is great footage of the psychiatrist talking to Billy’s alter Tommy and asking him how he would feel about being fused and Tommy said, “I think that’d be a little weird…” But, that was the goal. To get all of Billy’s personalities to work together as one.

My favorite part of the whole documentary was this moment though:

Dr. Turner, was talking to the alter she thought was Danny and she said, “So, you and Allen will fuse. Then you’ll be Danny Allen.” And he’s like “I’m not Danny! I’m Tommy!” And she is like, ‘Ok, you and Allen. You’ll be Tommy Allen.” And then all of a sudden she just goes “FUSE. FUSE!” and then obviously nothing happens and Tommy is like “I can’t do that… some of the things Allen likes are terrible.” And Dr. Turner asked what and he kind of scowled and said… baseball.

So, here is where things got a little confusing for me. Mainly because I don’t know enough about DID and fusing. But according to research, it turned out Milligan was already fused in a personality called “The Teacher.”

The Teacher knew of all the other alters and could help them learn their special talents, but he didn’t hold Billy’s consciousness so he couldn’t help Billy see them all as one person. So, when Dr. Caul learned of The Teacher in a conversation with Ragen. Dr. Caul played a recording of Ragen for “Billy,” the core personality. Billy knew that he had other personalities, but that was the first time he had seen proof. In that way, Dr. Caul drew The Teacher into consciousness in December 1978. Apparently, it was the first time Milligan had felt like one person since he was little.

Not long after The Teacher emerged, and Dr. Caul decided Billy was “cured” he started giving Milligan unsupervised furloughs from the hospital – which seems ill-advised, especially because apparently they got a lot of criticism from legislators and Athens residents to the point where the Teacher receded and Milligan’s other personalities began to reappear.

So, some time passed and apparently Milligan got tired of being institutionalized, because Billy escaped from Central Ohio Psychiatric Hospital on July 4, 1986. He allegedly obtained fake documents under the name Christopher Carr and settled in Bellingham, Washington, where he began living with Michael Madden. Apparently, Billy was especially charming, again, and convinced Madden to open a shared bank account with him. Then, Madden went missing but Billy kept cashing his disability checks… which seems suspicious and eventually caused Billy to flee the state and go to Florida.

He was on the lam for 4 and a half months and was in contact with his brother and his lawyers and they were all urging him to turn himself in. Eventually, he was apprehended by police in Florida. No one has ever been convicted in Madden’s disappearance.

After that, Milligan was sent back to a mental hospital in Ohio. He was released in 1988 after an independent psychiatrist concluded that he was no longer a danger to society. In August 1991, he was released from all state supervision. Not much is known about Milligan’s life during this period, though there is a record of him living in California, and his sister says he subsequently moved back to Ohio and lived in a mobile home she purchased for him. In 2014, Milligan died from cancer at the age of 59. 

In the end, there are still a lot of questions surrounding this case. Was Billy Milligan a master manipulator? A sociopath, through and through that used a rising tide of the ‘multiple personality’ concept that was out there in the world at that time?.. or a very sick person? Should he have been let out into the community after being “rehabilitated?” Did he kill Michael Madden? I feel like this has just been a story fully of unanswered questions! But it’s a very fascinating topic.

So, that’s some of Billy Milligan’s DID story – I’m sure there is SO much more than I could have covered. I highly recommend watching The Monster Within on Netflix. VERY good and thorough. I got a lot of great information from that piece.  


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