Criminally Insane? The 24 People Inside Billy Milligan

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The story of Billy Milligan is both tragic and highly debated. After being accused of sexual assault in the late 1970s, Billy pulled out the insanity card (which is not uncommon for criminals who have been caught). In most cases, anyone standing trial for a vicious crime is not sane, but the standard of using the insanity defense requires a psychologist to determine that the person had no control or knowledge over their actions.

Billy Milligan / Billy Milligan / Billy Milligan / Billy Milligan.
Source: Netflix

Split Personality Disorder, now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), means that a person’s personality is literally split, behaving differently depending on the personality that is taking over the body. Very distinguishable traits shift when the identity of the personality switches. Things like handwriting, accents, and even the age and gender of the person can alter with each personality.

Who is Billy Milligan?

When Billy Milligan was accused of rape, he was found not guilty due to insanity. Apparently, it was Billy’s other personalities that were committing these vicious crimes and what he needed was serious help, not jail time. However, there are other people who believe this was a cowardly way of getting away with his evil crimes.

A portrait of Billy Milligan.
A portrait of Billy Milligan. Source: Netflix

When this was going on back in the 1970s, mental disorders were considered taboo and not talked about. Studies of Dissociative Identity Disorder were in their infancy, and many psychologists didn’t believe that it was a real disorder. In 2021, there is much more information available about mental conditions, including DID.

A “Taboo” Subject

DID stems from traumatic childhood events. And I’m not talking about being made fun of in school or being pushed on the playground. It stems from severe abuse that includes torture. The terror takes an extreme toll on a growing child whose brain is in its formative years.

A mugshot of Billy Milligan.
Source: Netflix

In order to cope with such unbelievable trauma, the brain creates another personality – one that has no memory of these abusive instances. Once one new personality is formed, it’s not uncommon for your mind to create more. In other words, DID is a coping mechanism that affects people who dealt with an inconceivable amount of pain and suffering – likely in their early years.

Get Out of Jail Free Card

When it comes to Billy Milligan, many people are quick to believe that this is some kind of excuse to keep him out of jail, but upon analyzing his behavior, experts seem to be split about whether or not he really has the condition. Billy Milligan showed signs of DID and had 24 confirmed personalities.

A video still of Billy on an erratic behavior.
Source: Netflix

First of all, each personality had different handwriting. I know this doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but if you’re familiar with the subject, you know handwriting is very specific. His IQ test results also differed significantly depending on which personality was depicted.

It Wasn’t Me!

In the 1970s, Billy committed a series of crimes, including robbery, kidnapping, and most concerningly, rape. After being accused of raping multiple women on his college campus, Billy claimed that he wasn’t in control of his body or mind, and it was his other identities who committed these acts.

Police officers escort a handcuffed Billy Milligan to court.
Photo by Tom Sines

In court, psychiatrists testified that of his 24 different personalities, two were in control when the crimes were committed – a lesbian named Adalana and a Yugoslavian man named Ragen, according to The Columbus Dispatch. Let’s take a look back at his childhood to see what went wrong.

What Happened to Billy Milligan?

Billy Milligan was born on February 14, 1955, to Dorothy Sands and John Morrison, in Miami, Florida. He had an older brother named Jim and a little sister named Kathy. His father worked as a comedian, dealt with depression, and was extremely dependent on alcohol. Unfortunately, he took his own life when Billy was just four years old.

A mugshot of Billy Milligan.
Source: Netflix

After Morrison died, Billy’s mother remarried Dick Jonas, but that marriage ended soon after. In 1986, Sands tied the knot once again; this time to a man named Chalmer Milligan. You will quickly realize Dorothy Sands had terrible taste in men.

A Terrible Childhood

Although Billy longed for a father figure in his life, Chalmer Milligan was an abusive stepfather. Psychiatrists who worked with Billy believe that the abuse from Chalmer was the root cause of his disorder. During his sessions with these experts, Billy revealed that Chalmer tortured him in various ways since he was nine years old.

A picture of young Billy next to his sister and brother.
Source: Netflix

As you could imagine, Chalmer denied all of Billy’s allegations and was never charged with anything. However, Billy’s brother, sister, and mother all attested to Chalmer’s extreme abuse during Billy’s trial.

Trauma Fractured His Personality

As we know, Billy Milligan didn’t have the most delightful childhood. Therapists believe that his unfortunate past was filled with abuse, which first shattered his developing psyche. The alleged abuse little Billy had to endure was typical of split personalities and where they stem from.

An image of drawings made by Billy Milligan.
Source: Netflix

Billy suffered unimaginable terror: sexual abuse, being buried alive, and being hung once from his fingers and toes in a barn. And that was just the beginning of the horror that Billy had to deal with as a child.

The Evil Stepfather

These terrible crimes that caused Billy to develop such a severe mental disorder were committed by someone who Billy Milligan should have been able to trust: his stepfather. According to Billy’s family, his former stepfather is responsible, not just for the abuse, but for the subsequent mental disorder.

A still of Billy during the trial.
Source: Netflix

As those experts believe, it was this abusive treatment and torture that caused Billy’s DID in the first place. Of course, the stepfather denies all these accusations. But in order to develop multiple personalities, something must have happened back then.

Concerning Behavior

According to a timeline from The Columbus Dispatch, after the abuse started, Billy began showing signs of instability. Nobody knew the extent of how unstable he was, but the red flags were clear. His parents admitted Billy to a mental facility where he was diagnosed with neurosis.

An exterior shot of the mental facility.
Source: Pinterest

However, a few months later, he was kicked out of the facility because of his troublesome behavior. I’m not an expert, but shouldn’t that be a reason to keep him there? He was also later expelled from his high school, and at 17 years old, Billy Milligan decided to enlist in the Navy.

A Life of Crime

Unfortunately, even the Navy couldn’t help stabilizing Billy Milligan. He was discharged just several months after enlisting since it was clear that he was unable to adapt to the new environment. Soon after his short-lived stint in the Navy, Billy Milligan’s life of crime began.

A picture of Billy next to an unidentified woman.
Source: Netflix

In 1972, he was arrested for rape, kidnapping and assault. Three years later, Billy Milligan was sentenced to two years behind bars for robberies. He got off on parole in 1977 but continued to commit kidnappings, robberies, and rapes. On October 27, 1977, Billy was arrested for the crimes.

The Truth Comes Out

The truth came out in court. Not only did Billy’s stepfather abuse him, but he tortured him. He (allegedly) took Billy into the bard and urinated on him, buried him alive, sexually abused him, hung him, burned him, and so much more. In order to deal with this constant abuse and fear, Billy’s mind created alternate personalities.

A dated picture of Billy in his teens with his family.
Source: Netflix

Apparently, his alcoholic stepfather would come home drunk more often than not and beat up the kids. Billy’s brother and sister both claim that Billy got it the worst. They all had it rough, but not as bad as Billy.

His Legal Defense

Billy Milligan didn’t become famous just because he was one of the first people to be diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder. The reason the case blew up the 1970s media was that his defense attorneys used DID as his defense, and it worked. It was the first time someone successfully used an identity disorder as a legal defense.

A portrait of Billy Milligan.
Source: Netflix

As we know, Billy Milligan had been arrested for the sexual assault of two women on their college campus and stood trial in 1978. Due to his claims of having multiple people in his head who control his body and mind at different times, he was examined by various psychiatrists and medical experts.

How Do You Plead? Not Guilty

Those psychiatric specialists ultimately diagnosed him with multiple personality disorder, while others believed the condition was a myth. The courts deemed Billy Milligan unfit to stand trial because of his mental state, and he was sent off to Harding Hospital for a few months.

A photo of Billy sitting in court.
Source: YouTube

There, they attempted to put Billy’s fractured personality back together. When they thought they finally did, he appeared before the judge. However, the treatment he’s gotten at Harding didn’t hold. The judge decided that Billy Milligan needed psychiatric treatment rather than jail time.

Was it a Hoax?

Despite all the evidence surrounding Billy Milligan’s childhood and subsequent mental condition, many people still believe the whole thing was a hoax – “get out of jail free” card. They believed that Billy Milligan was a criminal and deserved to be in jail.

A video still of Billy Milligan.
Source: Netflix

It is difficult to tell. Based on the unimaginable torture Billy suffered; it only makes sense that his mind created multiple personalities. Still, that doesn’t excuse the terrible crimes he committed. The victims are the most important people in this case, after all.

How Did Billy Milligan Die?

After Billy Milligan was found not guilty by reason of insanity, he was sent to a mental institution in Ohio. However, he managed to escape several years later and was apprehended in Florida. He was then transported back to Ohio and was admitted into a mental hospital, yet again.

A photo of Billy Milligan.
Source: Pinterest

Billy Milligan was released back into society in 1988 after a psychiatrist confirmed that he was no longer a threat to the public. He lived a quiet life after that and died of cancer at 59 years old.

Justice Wasn’t Served

Many of Billy Milligan’s victims don’t believe that he had the controversial mental illness that experts diagnosed him with. Those victims went through their own terror and trauma and deserved justice. It’s not surprising that they have their doubts.

A photo of official police and Billy Milligan.
Source: YouTube

The diagnosis didn’t give the victims the closure they needed since their offender didn’t even get a prison sentence. This is far from justice if Billy Milligan was, in fact, expertly faking his condition from the beginning. However, this type of disorder is easy to fake.

There Are Still Skeptics

Even today, not everyone believes that Billy Milligan was mentally ill, and if he was, he didn’t have DID, or multiple personality disorder (MPD) which was what it was called at the time. Again, many people thought MPD was just a myth, finding it difficult to believe it could be a real disorder.

A portrait of Billy Milligan.
Source: YouTube

Therefore, many people believe that Billy Milligan was a terrible guy with psychopathic tendencies, allowing him to manipulate and fool those around him. But in the end, a jury believed him, which is why his case gained a ton of attention over the years.

The Mystery of Billy Milligan’s Multiple IQs

Time reported that due to his abuse and trauma growing up, Billy Milligan’s personality split in “a desperate attempt to handle conflicting emotions by parceling them out to different ‘people’ and is associated with a severely warped childhood.”

A psychologist holds a drawing of Billy during an interview.
Source: Netflix

In 1978, two psychologists got to know several of his personalities, including eight males and two females, ranging from ages three to 23. According to Time, each personality had different “voice patterns,” some had a foreign accent, their facial expressive were distinctive, and most strangely, each personality tested at different IQ levels.

Each Personality Had a Different IQ Score

As the New York Times reported in a 1981 article, Billy Milligan’s IQ ranged from 80 to 130 depending on which personality was being tested. This is a significant difference. According to Science Trends, an intelligence quotient of 80 is considered lower than average and might be “indicative of dullness.”

Billy’s attorney displays artwork done by Milligan’s various personalities.
Photo by Tom Rhees

A score of 130, on the other hand, means the person has “superior intelligence” or is “gifted.” There have even been reports claiming that someone in there (maybe Billy) had a genius IQ of 150, but those reports came from the defense and were never confirmed. However, Columbus Monthly added that Arthur – the intellectual of the personalities – refused to take the IQ test.

It Must be DID

The New York Times reported that “an assortment of experts” were stunned. It wasn’t just Billy Milligan’s raging IQ scores that baffled them, but also the talents some of these personalities had. Some painted landscapes and drew creepy artistic sketches.

A close-up on Billy’s facial expression.
Source: Netflix

Billy committed terrible crimes as the personality “Adalana,” a lesbian who raped a string of women. Regardless of what personality assaulted these college girls, it was Billy Milligan’s body that physically did it. Unsurprisingly, many of the victims believe this was a bulls**t defense and feel like they never got justice.

Some Personalities Committed Crimes

Most criminals will deny their crimes while being questioned, but in Billy Milligan’s case, his denial was true and untrue at the same time. Billy Milligan wasn’t the one who committed the crimes; they were carried out by Ragen Vadascovinich and Adalana.

A picture of Billy in a mental facility.
Source: Netflix

WBNS explained that Ragen’s personality took control of Billy’s body when he was in danger and was also the one who committed the robberies. Supposedly, the sexual assaults were committed by Adalana. The 19-year-old personality claimed the reason she raped women was that she wanted to feel close to another person.

The 24 People Inside Billy Milligan

Billy’s psyche was truly shattered. The 24 entities were split into two categories: “desirable” and “undesirable,” with the “teacher” being the summation of them all, according to WBSN.

Various images of Billy’s various personalities.
Source: Netflix

The “desirable” personalities were “the family” that was allowed to be in control of Billy’s self from time to time: Ragen and Arthur. We mentioned Ragen but didn’t discuss Arthur yet. However, these two personalities are the ones who classified the others – they were the ones in charge.

The Undesirables

The “undesirables” were all the personalities that caused problems and weren’t allowed to see the light of day through Billy’s eyes. Ragen took control in sketchy situations, Arthur was the smart one, and David appeared to take all the pain.

A mugshot of Billy.
Source: Netflix

Basically, a different personality would show up depending on the situation Billy was in. There were ten desirables all together, and they looked out for each other. Only two of the personalities didn’t fit into any of these categories…

The Others

Shawn was a 4-year-old deaf personality who couldn’t function in the body. He didn’t get cast out like the other undesirables, but they weren’t going to let him take control either. Then, there was the Teacher.

A picture of one of Billy’s drawings.
Source: Netflix

The Teacher was the fused personality. Unlike Billy, the Teacher held all the memories of all the personalities. Billy Milligan was the original and core identity, but not all of him. There were 24 parts of him. Can you imagine how terrible it would be to be a bunch of pieces but never a whole? That’s what this condition did to Billy Milligan.

Bouncing from Facility to Facility

Despite being found not guilty of rape charges in 1997, things didn’t get any better for Billy Milligan. Lima State Hospital was known for providing poor care to its patients, according to Backdrop Magazine. Billy’s legal team worked to get him transferred to Athens Mental Health Center instead.

A picture of Billy in one of the facilities.
Source: Facebook

This wasn’t a good decision in the long run. The Dispatch says Billy was shipped back and forth between both hospitals. He even escaped from one of them in 1986. While he was on the run, he left videos for the press and expressed the poor treatment he was experiencing in the facilities.

The Media Attention Aggravated His Condition

The media circus surrounding Billy Milligan certainly didn’t help. Some people treating the infamous DID patient believed the unwanted attention made it more difficult for Billy’s personality not to split. However, by 1988, they supposedly managed to make his personality whole again despite the disorder.

A newspaper clipping on Billy Milligan.
Source: Pinterest

Then Billy basically dropped off the face of the earth, only to resurface in 1996, when he was deemed unfit to handle his own affairs. By this point, the state of Ohio sued him for his royalties from his biography, “The Minds of Billy Milligan.”

Billy Milligan: The Core Personality

Billy Milligan (William Stanley Milligan) was the core personality. Even at the age of 23, he still reacted like a little boy. He spent most of his time sleeping. When nothing negative was happening, Billy felt comfortable coexisting with his other selves.

A picture of Billy with his girlfriend Becku Burkhart.
Photo by Glen Cumberledge

His mother or his girlfriends never realized there was anything wrong with him. But when he got in trouble, he was no longer in control. That’s when the personalities became self-selected and caused problems for Billy. Like the robberies, for example.

Arthur: The Intellectual

Arthur spent hours studying medicine, art, history, and languages. Arthur is an expert in science and medicine with a focus on hematology. He is an extremely smart Englishman, so yes, he has a British accent.

A picture of Billy after getting arrested.
Source: Netflix

Arthur’s personality appears during any situation that requires intellectual thinking. Arthur is one of the two main personalities that could be both “desirable” or “undesirable.” He seems to have a lot of power compared to some of the other personalities.

Ragen Vadascovinich: The “Keeper of Hate”

Ragen Vadascovinich is the “keeper of hate.” His name is actually derived from the words “rage again.” Ragen identifies as a Yugoslavian, talks with a Slavic accent, can write and speak Serbian, and is extremely strong. (Billy himself didn’t speak the language, and neither did any of his other personalities).

A photo of a pencil drawing made by Ragen.
Source: Netflix

He controls the body (or “the spot”) in dangerous situations, and like Arthur, he could also designate group members (or Billy’s other personalities) as “desirable” or “undesirable.” Ragen confessed to committing robbery in order to support “the family” but had no knowledge of the rapes.

Allen: The Con Man

Allen is a con man and a manipulator. This personality is the one who speaks to the outside world the most. He is artistically inclined and enjoys playing drums and painting portraits. Allen is also the only right-handed personality, as well as the only one who smokes cigarettes.

A picture of Billy in court.
Source: Netflix

Allen is usually the one who talks to people and shows up in social situations. The 18-year-old personality is clever and doesn’t speak with an accent. He takes over the body when intercourse is required. Unfortunately, his young age usually ruins everything for him.

Tommy: The “Keeper of Salvation”

Tommy is the escape artist; he is often confused with Allen to do their sneaky behaviors. Tommy is also a painter and specializes in landscapes. He plays the tenor sax and has an excellent understanding of electronics; he is an expert on the subject. Tommy can open mechanical and electrical locks.

A photo of Billy painting.
Photo by Glen Cumberledge

The 16-year-old personality also mastered the technique of controlling joints and muscles, so he has the ability to independently remove handcuffs and straitjackets – which happened in the psychiatric institution.

Danny: The Scared One

Danny is terrified of people, especially men. The 14-year-old personality is also artistic but only paints still life and never landscapes. It is believed that David would show up when Billy was being abused by his stepfather. He said that this was because Chalmer made him dig his own grave and buried him in it, leaving only a breathing tube.

A headshot of Billy.
Source: Netflix

Because of this, Danny is afraid of the earth in any form and vowed to never lay on the grass again. Unfortunately, Danny is the personality that holds onto all of those terrible childhood memories.

David and Christopher

David is an eight-year-old personality and the “keeper of pain.” It takes consciousness in order to take the pain of the other personalities. It is believed that David would come out whenever his stepfather sexually abused him.

A photo of Billy as a young boy.
Source: Netflix

Christopher is a 13-year-old Englishman who plays the harmonica with his three-year-old little sister named Christine. Christine was the youngest identity. She has dyslexia, but Arthur taught her how to read and write. The thing about Christene is that she was probably the first of Billy’s alternate personalities and one of the first to know that the others exist.

Christine: The Youngest One

Like her brother, Christene was also British. When she had possession over Billy’s consciousness, Christine helped her mother around the house and looked over Billy’s little sister Kathy. She also stood in the corner in school or at home if Billy ever got in trouble or did something wrong.

A picture of young Billy with his brother and sister.
Source: Netflix

The reason she stood in the corner was because, unlike Billy’s other personalities, she did it calmly. Arthur taught her to read and write, but Ragen also has a special bond with little Christene. Apparently, she was his favorite of the “family.”

Adalana: The Lesbian

We already spoke about Adalana, the 19-year-old lesbian who had the ability to occupy the body at will. Unfortunately, she was in control of Billy Milligan’s minds during those rapes. She enjoys cooking, writing poetry, and keeping things in order in the “family.”

A portrait of Billy.
Source: Netflix

Adalana occupies the body in situations when it comes to being a “gentleman;” gentle with women. For a while, only Arthur and Christine knew that Adalana existed. She was considered an “undesirable” person and therefore, she was forbidden to control Billy’s mind.

Phil: An Undesirable

With 24 distinctive personalities in one body, it’s only natural that some entities would be around less than others. We just went through the ten main personalities, most of which were “desirable” entities, but let’s get into the less desirable ones that come out a little less often.

portrait of Billy Milligan.
Source: Netflix

Phil is a 20-year-old Brooklyn native with a pronounced accent. He has a criminal nature. He was engaged in drug trafficking and committed armed robberies on homosexual couples – waiting for victims in parking lots along the highway.

Kevin: Phil’s Friend (and Accomplice)

Kevin is Phil’s friend (or partner in crime), and he came up with a plan to rob a pharmacy and then steal from his friends in the business. Needless to say, he was an “undesirable” one. However, during his stay at the high-security clinic in Lima, Kevin started an uprising against the orderlies who hit the patients in the clinic.

A photo of Billy in court.
Source: YouTube

In gratitude, Arthur took Kevin off the “unwanted” list. This meant Kevin was classified as a “desirable” personality, despite his criminal behavior.

Walter and April: The Killers

Walter is a 22-year-old Australian hunting enthusiast. He took over the body when his navigation skills were required. He was always able to steer the body in the right direction whenever Billy got lost or didn’t know his way. Arthur classified him as undesirable for “barbarism” – killing in the forest for no reason.

Mugshots of Billy’s various personalities.
Source: Netflix

April is a black-haired, brown-eyed, skinny girl with a Boston accent. April was obsessed with the idea of killing Billy’s stepfather. She was declared undesirable after trying to convince Ragen to kill Chalmer. Arthur called in Christine and managed to persuade Ragen not to murder.

Samuel and Mark

Samuel is an 18-year-old religious Jew. However, he was deemed undesirable by Arthur after he sold Allen’s painting. Samuel was Billy’s only religious personality, and he believed in God. Mark is a 16-year-old “workhorse.”

A portrait of Billy Milligan.
Source: YouTube

He doesn’t take much initiative and tends to be an inactive personality; possibly autistic. He is frequently referred to as a “zombie” because he does nothing unless he is told to. He just sits and stares when everyone gets bored. He doesn’t cause much trouble, but he also doesn’t really help the situation. He’s just kind of there.

Lee and Steve: The Jokesters

Lee was one of Billy’s more comedic personalities. He is a joker and a wit. The first time he took control of Billy’s body was in the Lebanese prison and was dubbed undesirable because his pranks went a little too far and threatened the “family.” Eventually, he disappeared from Billy’s consciousness entirely.

A photo of Billy Milligan.
Source: Netflix

Steve was a parodist and was called after Lee’s expulsion at the prison because he also knew how to make people laugh. Steve made Ragen upset when he parodied his accent and infuriated Arthur by talking Cockney. He was caught imitating the warden and got Billy locked up in an isolation ward.

Jason and Bobby

Jason was a 13-year-old “pressure valve.” This personality was hilarious and had no recollection of the tense situations that happened in Billy’s childhood, which sounds very peaceful for someone with so much trauma.

A newspaper clipping on the woman who married Billy.
Source: Pinterest

Bobby was the 17-year-old dreamer. He often introduced himself as an actor, traveler, or hero-favorite of the public, but he didn’t want to actually do anything to make him any of that. He had big dreams but lacked the determination to achieve them. Bobby went on a hunger strike in prison and was therefore declared undesirable.

Shawn and Martin

Shawn was a four-year-old deaf boy with a developmental delay. He occupied the consciousness in Billy’s childhood when he was getting punished and yelled at. Because he was deaf he often heard the sounds echo in his head. Shawn was considered undesirable since he wasn’t necessary in adulthood.

A photo of Billy’s parents.
Source: Netflix

Martin was the 19-year-old snob. The cocky New Yorker just expects everything to come on a silver platter without doing anything to earn them. Arthur classified him as undesirable because he had no desire to improve himself.

Timothy (aka Timmy)

Timothy, known as Timmy, was a 15-year-old personality. Timmy took control over Billy’s body when he worked in a flower shop… until he ran into a homosexual. After his unequivocal suggestion, Timmy ran away and retreated into his own world.

A headshot of Billy.
Source: Pinterest

While looking at all these distinctive personalities, it is crazy to see how different each and every personality really is. From their accents to the languages they speak, the whole concept of multiple personalities is hard for many people to wrap their heads around. But there is one personality that combines them all.

The Teacher

The unifying personality was the Master. Also known as the Teacher, this personality emerged clearly while Billy was getting treatment at Athens Mental Health Center. It was the Teacher who helped share the story of Billy Milligan with the world.

A picture of the woman who married Billy.
Source: Pinterest

The special thing about the Teacher is that it was the only personality that recalled events that were not available for the rest of the “family.” In other words, the Teacher knew everything about each identity; he was like a combination of all of them.