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What To Know About Billy Milligan’s Family

His siblings recall their turbulent childhood with him in Netflix’s new docuseries Monsters Inside.

COURTESY OF NETFLIX

Netflix’s new docuseries, Monsters Inside: The 24 Faces of Billy Milligan, re-explores the controversial case of Billy Milligan, who was arrested for three rapes at Ohio State University in the 1970s but acquitted due to insanity after being diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (then known as multiple personality disorder). This made Milligan the first person to be acquitted for a violent crime with such a defense, leading to fervent discussion among medical professionals and the general public at the time. Monsters Inside attempts to unpack the mythology surrounding his life and case.

In doing so, the series features Milligan’s sister, Kathy Preston, and brother, Jim Morrison, who speak about their turbulent upbringing with Billy. Their mother, Dorothy Sands, met their birth father, Johnny Morrison, after leaving her home state of Ohio and moving to Miami with her sister. Though Morrison was still married to another woman at the time, the couple had three children together: Jim, Billy, and Kathy Jo, all born in the ‘50s. Morrison reportedly struggled with alcohol misuse and depression and died by suicide a few years after the birth of Kathy Jo. Following Morrison’s death, Sands moved back to Ohio and remarried her ex-husband and high school sweetheart Dick Jonas. But less than a year later, the couple split again. Dorothy then met Army veteran Chalmer Milligan, who became Billy’s stepfather. Chalmer had two children from previous relationships and when he and Dorothy married in 1963, he adopted her three children and she adopted his young daughter, Challa. The two got divorced a decade later in 1973, at which point Billy had already been struggling in school and had been convicted of rape.

During his trial for the Ohio State campus rapes in the late ‘70s, Billy accused Chalmer of abusing him during his childhood, saying that his stepfather sexually assaulted him, beat him, hung him by his toes and fingers, and buried him alive. (Chalmer denied the allegations against him and was never charged). Psychiatrists who evaluated Billy believed that this led him to begin developing multiple personalities. Kathy Jo, Jim, and their mother Dorothy all testified to Chalmer’s alleged abusive behavior at Billy’s trial, with Kathy Jo saying that their childhood with Chalmer was “a horror.” In the Netflix docuseries, Jim recalls that Chalmer used to regularly beat him and Billy and would threaten to hurt their mother and sisters if they mentioned the abuse. Chalmer, who died in 1988, dismissed them as liars and asserted he did not “have time to do all those crazy things.”

Today, Kathy Jo Preston has three children, a handful of grandchildren, and works as a teacher in her home of Dublin, Ohio. Her brother Jim lives in Georgia with his family and works for a local business. Their mother, Dorothy Sands, died in August 2012 at the age of 83. After being found not guilty of the Ohio State rapes due to insanity, Milligan was institutionalized in state-run medical hospitals for several years. He was released in 1988 after an independent psychiatrist concluded that he was no longer a danger to society, and was subsequently released from all state supervision in August 1991. He died of cancer at 59 in 2014.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.