As the new Apple TV+ docuseries Crowded Room premieres on Friday, we take a look at the harrowing life of Billy Milligan. The criminal, whose character is played by Tom Holland, was the first person to be found not guilty by reason of insanity for multiple personality disorder, now known as dissociative identity disorder.
Milligan's troubled life began when his father, an alcoholic gambler, committed suicide shortly before his son's fourth birthday, according to a newspaper article in the Columbus Dispatch. His mother Dorothy remarried abusive stepfather Chalmer Milligan, and the boy suffered sexual and physical abuse. During talks with psychiatrists, the boy claimed his stepfather sodomized him and hung him by his toes and fingers, and later told doctors that he could change into 10 different personalities.
When Milligan was arrested in 1972 for kidnappings, rapes, and robberies around the Ohio State University campus in Zanesville, he swore that it wasn't him who did the crimes, but another personality named Ragen and another one named Adalana. Eventually, additional evaluations revealed eight more alternate personalities, and on December 4, 1978, the 22-year-old was acquitted of nine charges by reason of insanity.
After he was released from jail, the boy moved around the United States, with records showing that he lived in Beverly Hills and Las Vegas. He eventually returned to Ohio and, after being assessed as no longer a threat to society, was allowed to live in a mobile home that his sister purchased for him until his death from cancer in 2014 at the age of 59.