The Sad Truth About Billy Milligan's Childhood

William Stanley Milligan, better known as Billy Milligan, became famous in the late '70s for being the first criminal who was acquitted by reason of insanity due to multiple personality disorder — which today is called dissociative identity disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic, those diagnosed with the condition tend to involuntarily switch to various identities, with each persona having a unique background and trait. Symptoms include memory loss, a sense of detachment, and an unstable sense of identity. Medical experts say that dissociative identity disorder typically develops as a way for people to cope with a traumatic incident.

Milligan committed a series of crimes in the '70s including robbery, kidnapping, and rape. However, he claimed that he wasn't in control of his mind and body and said it was his other identities who did the crimes. All in all, a psychiatrist testified in court that Milligan had 24 different personalities, and two of whom — a lesbian named Adalana and a Yugoslavian man named Ragen — were the ones in control when the crimes were committed, as reported by The Columbus Dispatch.

Billy Milligan's early years

Billy Milligan was born to Dorothy Sands and John Morrison on February 14, 1955, in Miami, Florida. Morrison, who worked as a comedian, struggled with depression and was heavily dependent on alcohol. He died by suicide when Billy was just 4 years old. After Morrison's death, Sands remarried her ex-husband, Dick Jonas, but the marriage ended soon after. In 1963, Sands married again, this time to a man named Chalmer Milligan (via The Dispatch).

Chalmer Milligan was an abusive stepfather to Billy. Based on medical reports from psychiatrists who treated him, the abuse from Chalmer was the root cause of his personality disorder. During talks with psychiatrists, Billy revealed that Chalmer sodomized and tortured him in various ways when he was just 9 years old. Chalmer denied all of Billy's allegations, and he was never apprehended. However, Billy's brother, sister, and mother attested to Chalmer's abusive nature during Billy's trial.

According to a timeline from The Columbus Dispatch, Billy started showing signs of instability after the abuse. His parents admitted him to a mental facility where he was diagnosed with hysterical neurosis. Months later, however, he was let go from the facility because of his troublesome behavior. He was also expelled from high school, and Billy then decided to enlist in the Navy at 17 years old.

Billy Milligan's crimes

Even the Navy couldn't give Billy Milligan stability. He was discharged just after a few months after enlisting as it was evident that he wasn't able to adapt to the new environment. Milligan started his life of crime soon after his short-lived stint in the Navy. In 1972, he was arrested for rape, kidnap, and assault. Three years later, he was sentenced to two years in prison for robberies. Milligan was paroled in 1977, and again, he committed kidnappings, rapes, and robberies. He was arrested for the crimes on October 27, 1977 (via Dispatch).

After being found not guilty by reason of insanity, Milligan was committed to a mental institution in Ohio. He escaped several years later, per Bustle, and was apprehended in Florida. He was transported back to Ohio and was again admitted into a mental hospital. In 1988, Billy Milligan was released back into society after a psychiatrist reported that he was no longer a threat to the public. He lived a quiet life thereafter and died of cancer at 59 years old.