Billy Milligan dies at 59; first to use multiple personality defense

Associated Press

Billy Milligan, an Ohio man believed to be the first person to use multiple personality disorder in an insanity defense, has died. He was 59.

Milligan had cancer and died Friday at a hospital in Columbus, Ohio, said his sister, Kathy. She refused to be identified by her last name, citing concerns about backlash, her family’s privacy and reigniting what she called “the insanity that surrounds everything involved in this case.”

In 1978, Milligan was accused of kidnapping, raping and robbing three women near Ohio State University. He was found innocent by reason of insanity after psychiatrists concluded he had as many as two dozen personalities.


Doctors said the many personalities fused into one harmless one after therapy. Milligan was released from a hospital in 1988 and underwent outpatient mental treatment before getting his final release in August 1991.

Born in Florida in 1955, Milligan moved to Ohio with his mother after his father committed suicide. Milligan said that a stepfather physically and sexually abused him as a child.

Milligan received mental treatment on and off throughout his life, his sister said.

In 1983, he agreed to pay all costs from his stays at Ohio psychiatric hospitals. The room and board, plus interest, brought the total to about $450,000.

The state has recovered $170,000 from Milligan to date, a spokesman for the Ohio attorney general said Wednesday.

“The Minds of Billy Milligan,” a book Milligan wrote with “Flowers for Algernon” author Daniel Keyes, was published in 1981.

In the 1990s Milligan lived in San Diego County, where he was accused of threatening a judge and went through bankruptcy.


He returned to Ohio about five years ago and had lived “rather quietly” for a while, his sister said.