Netflix documentary explores trial of serial rapist with 24 personalities


A new Netflix docuseries is set to lift the lid on the case of a serial rapist who was famously found not guilty of his crimes by reason of insanity after he claimed to have 24 personalities living inside of him. 

Billy Milligan was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder (now known as dissociative identity disorder) after he was arrested in 1977 for kidnapping, robbing, and raping three women on the Ohio State University campus.   

Premiering on September 22, Monsters Inside: The 24 Faces of Billy Milligan explores how he became the first defendant in the U.S. to successfully use the diagnosis as a legal defense. 

The four-episode series directed by Olivier Megaton features interviews with Milligan’s family members and friends, as well as medical experts and law enforcement professionals who are familiar with the case. 

In depth look: The upcoming Netflix docuseries Monsters Inside: The 24 Faces of Billy Milligan explores the highly-publicized defense of rapist Billy Milligan

The trailer for the upcoming series also includes archival videos of Milligan, including footage of him taken over by one of his personalities. 

‘It still bugs me when they call me Billy, but I don’t say much,’ he says. ‘I don’t say anything really. But I’m not Billy.’

Some cast doubt on whether Milligan really had multiple personalities, claiming he was a sociopath and a liar. 

Milligan was born in Miami, Florida, in 1955, the youngest child of John Morrison and his mistress Dorothy Sands. Sands and Morrison had two other children together, an older son, Jim Milligan, and a daughter, Kathy Jo Milligan, despite him being married to another woman.  

Morrison killed himself when Milligan was four years old, and his mother moved their family back to Ohio, where she remarried her ex-husband and divorced him about a year later. In 1963, Sands married Chalmer Milligan, and they moved to Lancaster. 

Psychiatric reports based on Milligan’s memory stated that his stepfather repeatedly sodomized him and tortured him by burying him alive and hanging him by his toes and fingers, The Columbus Dispatch reported in 2007. 

Looking back: Milligan, then 22, was arrested in 1977 for kidnapping, robbing, and raping three women on the Ohio State University campus

Looking back: Milligan, then 22, was arrested in 1977 for kidnapping, robbing, and raping three women on the Ohio State University campus

Looking back: Milligan, then 22, was arrested in 1977 for kidnapping, robbing, and raping three women on the Ohio State University campus

Diagnosis: Milligan was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder (now known as dissociative identity disorder)

Diagnosis: Milligan was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder (now known as dissociative identity disorder)

A psychiatrist said the alleged abuse was what caused Milligan’s personality to splinter, though Chalmer Milligan denied the accusations and was never charged.

Milligan was a troubled teen and was committed to a state mental hospital, where he was diagnosed with hysterical neurosis. Three months later, he was kicked out of the hospital for his disruptive behavior.   

After getting expelled from Lancaster High School in 1972, he joined the Navy, but he only lasted a month before he was discharged. 

That same year, Milligan and his friend were found guilty of rape, and he served six months in a Zanesville youth camp. 

In 1975, he was sentenced to prison for armed robbery and was released on parole two years later in April 1977 — six months before the rapes on OSU’s campus. 

On October 14, 1977, he pointed a gun at an optometry student in the campus parking lot and took her to a wooded area. After he raped her, he made her write a check and cash it for him.   

In less than two weeks, he committed two more rapes before one of the victims identified him out of a group of mug shots in 1977. One of the women told investigators that the rapist had a German accent, while another said he was nice and acted childlike. 

Personalities: Psychiatrists said he had at least 24 distinct 'multiples' in his mind, including a Yugoslavian named Ragen and a 19-year-old lesbian named Adalana

Personalities: Psychiatrists said he had at least 24 distinct ‘multiples’ in his mind, including a Yugoslavian named Ragen and a 19-year-old lesbian named Adalana

Defense: It was argued he was under the influence of two personalities, Ragen and Adalana, when he committed the crimes

Defense: It was argued he was under the influence of two personalities, Ragen and Adalana, when he committed the crimes

Milligan was arrested after law enforcement found that a print on one of the victim’s cars matched one of his fingerprints on file, but he claimed to have no recollection of the crimes. 

‘I guess every time I wake up, somebody said I did something bad,’ he says in the trailer for the series. 

Milligan’s public defenders, Judy Stevenson and Gary Schweickart, had him evaluated by psychiatrists who diagnosed him with dissociative identity disorder, saying he had at least 24 distinct ‘multiples’ in his mind. 

A psychiatrist testified that he was not responsible for the crimes when they occurred because of his multiple personalities.  

A psychiatric report stated that Milligan’s consciousness was taken over by a 23-year-old Yugoslavian named Ragen when he decided to commit robbery, but then a 19-year-old lesbian named Adalana took over his body and raped the women, according to The Columbus Dispatch. 

Milligan’s lawyers pleaded insanity at the trial, and he was ultimately acquitted. He is believed to be the first person to use dissociative identity disorder as a defense and be found not guilty.  

Making history: Milligan's lawyers pleaded insanity, and he is believed to be the first defendant in the U.S. to successfully use dissociative identity disorder as a legal defense

Making history: Milligan’s lawyers pleaded insanity, and he is believed to be the first defendant in the U.S. to successfully use dissociative identity disorder as a legal defense

Free: Milligan spent 11 years in mental hospitals in Ohio and was released in 1988 after experts determined that his personalities had 'fused' together. He died in 2014 at age 59

Free: Milligan spent 11 years in mental hospitals in Ohio and was released in 1988 after experts determined that his personalities had ‘fused’ together. He died in 2014 at age 59

The highly-publicized court case led to Ohio changing the law so that the defense had a greater burden to prove insanity, The Columbus Dispatch reported. 

Milligan spent 11 years in mental hospitals in Ohio and was released in 1988 after experts determined that his personalities had ‘fused’ together. In 1991, he was discharged from the Ohio mental health system. 

He moved to California to work on a movie about his life, but it never got made, and then he faded into obscurity. On December 12, 2014, he died of cancer at age 59 in a nursing home in Columbus, Ohio.

There have been numerous attempts from Hollywood to make a movie about Milligan’s life. In the early ’90s, James Cameron and Todd Graff co-wrote a film adaptation of a biographical book about Milligan titled A Crowded Room. 

Cameron intended to direct the film, but he dropped the project after a series of legal disputes. A number of actors and directors have been attached to the film over the years, including Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, and David Fincher.  

In 2015, it was reported that Leonardo DiCaprio would be taking on the role of Milligan in A Crowded Room, but the film never came to fruition. 

Earlier this year, it was announced that The Crowded Room would be adapted into a television series for Apple TV+ titled A Crowded Room, starring Tom Holland. 



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