Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Multiple Personalities: Crime and Defense

A Strange Defense

Death's Acre
Death's Acre
In Deaths Acre, Dr. Bill Bass describes a gruesome series of murders into which he was called for his expertise on time since death. Just east of Knoxville, Tennessee, on October 20, 1992, a hunter came across the bruised and bound body of a decomposing woman. She was identified as Patricia Anderson, missing for a week. She was a prostitute, which led police to a brutal john, known for bringing women to this area: Thomas Dee Huskey, 32. He had once been arrested for rape but released when the woman did not show up to testify.

Thomas Dee Huskey, in court
Thomas Dee Huskey, in court
The street walkers knew him as the Zoo Man for his propensity to take women behind the zoo, where he once had worked, for sex. There he would tie them up and brutalize them. Most of the women knew enough to steer clear of him, but some either did not know or were desperate.

Nearly a week after the first victim was found, police scouting the area came across two more. One body was fresh, but the other had been there a while and animals had pulled her from her original dumping place.

Then, on October 27, the skeletonized remains of a fourth victim were located in the same general vicinity. They definitely had a serial killer.

Arrested and interrogated, Thomas Huskey confessed on tape to all four, but while he was talking, his voice and expressive demeanor changed dramatically to one of anger and aggression. He indicated    he was now Kyle, another personality, and that he had committed the murders. Then came another voice, with a cultured British accent and unusual vocabulary, calling himself Philip Daxx. He claimed   his function was to protect Tom from Kyle.

When asked what his plea would be, Huskey announced, Not guilty. His lawyer, Herb Moncier, quickly added, Not guilty by reason of insanity.

It took six years for the murder cases to finally get to trial in 1999 (and in the meantime Huskey was convicted of a series of rapes, with no mention during this trial of his alter personalities). Moncier argued for many things, from change of venue to more money for experts to throwing out the confession. At trial, one of his key points was that Huskey suffered from multiple personality disorder, and that a    man with such a low IQ would not be able to create two other personalities, especially a sophisticated Englishman. The confession had been offered by Kyle, Huskeys evil personality, which was no proof Huskey himself had done anything. Another alleged personality was Timmy, a homosexual who liked pornography.

Defense psychologist, Dr. Diana McCoy, testified that Huskey did in fact suffer from multiple personality disorder, due to trauma suffered during childhood. Others had noticed these alter personalities, including Huskeys wife and a jailer.

Dr. Robert Sadoff, a forensic psychiatrist, said he had been in Huskeys presence when one of the personalities emerged. He could tell this, he said, because the facial expressions and mannerisms were different. Huskey also had shifted hands to write.

The prosecution employed its own expert testimony from Dr. Herbert Spiegel, a psychologist in private practice. As shown on Primetime in 2003, Spiegel stated that the diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder is rare, and suggested Huskey was simply a psychopath who created Kyle to manipulate the court. He believed Huskey displayed a brilliant imagination, but not multiple personalities.

The prosecutor also charged that the personalities were based on characters from a daytime soap opera, Days of Our Lives. In addition, no one had corroborated the alleged child abuse had triggered the disorder.

Then a jailhouse snitch, William Fletcher, who shared an adjoining cell with Huskey, testified that Huskey had read Sybil and had told him he was going to pretend to be crazy like that to avoid a death sentence. Fletcher had seen no evidence of any of the alleged alter personalities. Neither had Huskeys mother. She claimed Tom had always been just plain Tom.

The prosecution also contended that in his confession, Huskey gave specific details about the murders, which only the perpetrator would have known.

After much deliberation, the jury was unable to come to a unanimous decision. Five jurors believed Huskey was guilty and sane, while four thought he was not guilty by reason of insanity. Three jurors never reached a final decision. Interviews with some of the jurors disclosed their discontent with the system. One juror believed that if a plea of guilty but insane were offered, then a unanimous vote would have been reached. One person also said had she heard about Huskeys sexual practices and the rapes for which he had been convicted, as well as an attempted murder, her opinion about his guilt in the murders would have changed.

The judge declared a mistrial, which meant Huskey would have to be tried again. Then in 2002, due to Huskey having asked for a lawyer during the course of his confession, the confession was ruled inadmissible.

While he serves 44 years for three rapes, the prosecution must decide whether its worth going through another trial without the key evidence. In 2004, Huskey was scheduled for a new rape trial because a higher court ruled that it had been wrong to try the rape cases together.

Huskeys story raises a lot of questions about the reality of multiple personalities, the dilemma they create for the courts, and the possibility that this disorder can be successfully faked.

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