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Jul 29

The Milligan Painting

A couple days ago a Facebook friend shared a story about an upcoming movie, The Crowded Room. In the movie Leonardo DiCaprio portrays Billy Milligan, who was diagnosed with 24 different personalities.

Billy Milligan was born William Stanley Milligan on 14 February 1955 in Miami Beach, Florida. His mother was from Ohio and they returned to Ohio when he was a boy.

Milligan was charged with kidnapping, robbing, and raping three women near The Ohio State University campus in October 1977. He was diagnosed with 24 personalities and, because of his multiple personality disorder, was acquitted by reason of insanity. His acquittal is believed to be the first of its kind in America.

Milligan spent ten years in Ohio mental hospitals before he was released in 1988.

Milligan was incarcerated at the Lima State Hospital for the Criminally Insane for a few years. My dad worked there during the time Billy was there and mentioned him a few times.

Milligan was a talented artist and my dad asked him to paint a still-life on canvas. It is a large piece that measures 26 x 32 inches with the frame. The painting hung in my parents’ dining room for several years, but my mom was never really fond of the painting because the background is so dark. She gave the painting to me several years ago.

Billy Milligan painting, 1980. (2016 photo by Karen)

Billy Milligan painting, 1980. (2016 photo by Karen)

His signature “Billy” and the date, 80. [1980]

Billy Milligan signature w/1980 date. (2016 photo by Karen)

Billy Milligan signature w/1980 date. (2016 photo by Karen)

Milligan was also incarcerated at the Athens State Hospital, aka The Ridges, in Athens, Ohio, near Ohio University. Ohio University professor Daniel Keyes wrote a book about Milligan in 1981, The Minds of Billy Milligan.

The Ridges, Athens, Ohio. (2009 photo by Karen)

The Ridges, Athens, Ohio. (2009 photo by Karen)

The Ridges, Athens, Ohio. (2009 photo by Karen)

The Ridges, Athens, Ohio. (2009 photo by Karen)

Our son Jeff got his master’s degree from Ohio University and Joe and I used to walk through the grounds at The Ridges when we visited him. The grounds are currently owned by the university and people walk there for exercise now.

Grounds at The Ridges, Athens, Ohio. (2009 photo by Karen)

Grounds at The Ridges, Athens, Ohio. (2009 photo by Karen)

Cemetery at The Ridges, Athens, Ohio. (2009 photo by Karen)

Cemetery at The Ridges, Athens, Ohio. (2009 photo by Karen)

The Ridges, Athens, Ohio. (2009 photo by Karen)

The Ridges, Athens, Ohio. (2009 photo by Karen)

Milligan was released in 1988 and was discharged from the Ohio mental health system and the Ohio courts. After that he moved to California.

Billy Milligan died of cancer on 12 December 2014 in Columbus, Ohio.

The movie starring DiCaprio is supposed to be released sometime in 2017.

 

Sources:

The Columbus Dispatch, “Billy Milligan/1955-2014: Man with the Famous Insanity Plea Dies;” 17 December 2014; (www.dispatch.com : accessed 27 July 2016).

Billy Milligan, Wikipedia; (https://en.wikipedia.org : accessed 27 Jul 2016).

2 comments

  1. richmond

    hello,i worked 31 yrs in corrections ,my first 6 yrs at lima state hospital, Billy was a pt on the unit i worked ,i played basketball with him,observed him while he painted a 75 ‘ mural on wall in entrance to prison,,he also drew me a pencil drawing of an eagle that he signed simply billy with a line coming out of the y in his name going under name. In the landscape mural at LSH there was a small building like a outhouse qans he painted a figure looking out the window it had no detail and appeared like a shadow, i remember asking him who it was ,i cant remember what he told me, I was watching movie split which made me recall him,i was 24-26 when he was there at LSH,,i thought little at that time about his multiple personalities,

    1. Karen

      How interesting! Did you happen to work with my dad during the time you worked a LSH? Thank you so much for writing and sharing the information.

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