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Hypnosis Reveals Inmate's Suspected Alternate, And Deadly, Personality
Reggie was behind bars for nearly killing a Utah woman during a violent assault — but the inmate claimed to have no memory of the attack.
Can you carry out a murder without ever remembering it?
That’s the question Dr. Al Carlisle, a psychologist at Utah State Prison, sought out to answer when he began working with a prisoner named Reggie, who claimed to have no memory of a violent assault and murder, according to “Violent Minds: Killers on Tape.”
Through the use of hypnosis, Carlisle came to believe that Reggie suffered from multiple personality disorder — now known as dissociative identity disorder — and had carried out the violent acts while acting as a different persona, or an “alter,” named Reginald.
“When you get a person who doesn’t remember the crime and the crime just doesn't seem to fit the nature of the person you’re seeing, and the person seems sincere as they tell you that they don’t remember the crime and they would like to, then you’re likely to have a multiple personality,” Carlisle told a group of law enforcement officers in 1985.
Carlisle, who once also worked with famed serial killer Ted Bundy, died in 2018 at the age of 81, but the haunting recordings of his sessions with prisoners at the Utah State Prison give an inside look into the mind of a killer.
When Carlisle first met with Reggie in 1984 he had been convicted of attempted manslaughter and sexual assault in the violent attack of a woman nicknamed “Melanie,” who he worked with in a Jobs Corp program in Utah. He’d later be linked to the earlier murder of 15-year-old Victoria Jacoby, but when Carlisle first met with Reggie his link to Jacoby had not been discovered.
His attack on Melanie sent him to prison, but Reggie told Carlisle that he remembered “nothing” about the violence that nearly claimed her life.
“I didn’t want to remember it,” he said.
In an attempt to learn more about what memories Reggie held deep in his subconscious, Carlisle decided to use hypnosis.
“Al Carlisle was very competent in his work and in the 1980s hypnosis was something that was never thought of for a prison psychologist,” his colleague Allan Roe, a fellow psychologist at the prison, told “Violent Minds: Killers on Tape.” “Hypnosis back in those days was mostly a stage act, it just happened to be that (Brigham Young University) had probably the leading expert on hypnosis in the United States. So this professor, or hypnosis specialist, came out there and worked with us.”
As a result, Roe said he and Carlisle essentially became leading experts on hypnosis in the state themselves.
It was during one of these hypnosis sessions that Carlisle discovered Reggie’s second much darker personality, an alter Reggie referred to as Reginald.
“How are you different from Reggie?” Carlisle asked at one time.
“I’m content one way or the other,” Reginald responded. “Taking, stealing. Reggie will ask, ‘May I have? May I have?’”
In another eerie session, Reginald told Carlisle he had been created “to destroy” and had stolen cars, taken money and set fires including one blaze in his own home after throwing a match behind a couch.
Carlisle believed the alter was created during Reggie’s own traumatic childhood as a way to cope with his mother’s beatings and abuse, as he often was tied to chairs, beaten with extension cords or locked into a closet for days at a time.
“The belief is that the different personalities, or alters, that come in Dissociative Identity Disorder result from essentially a trauma in childhood, often before the age of 5,” Dr. Paul R. Puri, a psychiatrist specializing in hypnosis and dissociative disorders, explained. “Part of the reason for that is probably because your sense of identity isn’t really solidified until around that age. That results in essentially a splitting off of awareness or consciousness in order to keep maybe the trauma at bay as one aspect of it, and another is to form a different self that can respond and compensate to the abuse or to the terrible circumstances that occur.”
When it came to the attack on Melanie, Reggie himself described her as a girl he was “messing with” who used to know “how to antagonize me.”
“She knew how to upset me, make me mad, to the point where another part of me wanted to knock her out,” he confided to Carlisle. “It scares me, you know? Because I didn’t know how to control my reactions at that time. It’s like total anger built up.”
But when it came to the violent attack, Reggie had no memory of it. Under hypnosis, however, Reginald was able to provide more details.
Melanie was found “severely injured” on the steps of an abandoned house in Ogden, Utah on July 21, 1983 after an unwitting passerby had discovered the grisly scene.
“The victim was probably in her early 20s and she was just wearing a bra and panties, I believe at that time,” Ogden Police Officer Thomas Breen recalled. “She had some blood on her face, some redness around her neck, there was blood on the chest of her body.”
Police followed a blood trail back inside the dilapidated home into the basement, where the violent assault had taken place.
“What it appeared to us is that they had begun to leave and had got to the top of the stairs and the suspect may have gotten angry or something and pushed her down the stairs and then proceeded to strangle her and then cover her body so it wouldn’t be found,” Breen said.
Although left for dead, Melanie regained consciousness and was able to drag herself out of the home and scream for help.
She told police that her attacker was her coworker Reggie from Clearfield Job Corps. Police quickly identified him and took him into custody as he was getting onto a bus, still covered in the victim’s blood.
When Carlisle asked “Reginald” about the attack under hypnosis, he admitted he “tried to choke her to death.”
Once brought out of hypnosis, Reggie described what it felt like to be taken over by the different persona.
“It was like when you’re trying to fight your way out of a closet or a hole or something,” he said. “It’s like, you know, when something takes control of you? It’s taken control of your mind. And don’t let you think what you wanna think. It’s like it’s got control of you.”
While Reggie was behind bars in Utah serving a 15-year sentence in Melanie’s attempted murder, police in Nebraska were able to link him to the grisly death of Jacoby, who ran away from home two years before her death.
“Vicky was beautiful,” her stepsister Susan Fowler recalled. “It wasn’t just on the outside, she was so kind.”
Her body was discovered on Dec. 29, 1984 in the fruit cellar of a home. The homeowner called police after making the grisly discovery in a rental property.
“My time on the police department I had never seen a body decomposed like this to the point you couldn’t tell where the person died and, at this point, we couldn’t even establish if it was male or female,” Omaha Police Lt. James DeMuelmeester recalled.
Jacoby – who had been strangled to death – was later identified after her mother saw a news report about the discovery of the body, called into police and provided dental records.
“That day when the two officers came to the door, I knew that they were going to tell us that my sister had died,” her stepsister Carolyn Finney remembered.
Police identified Reggie as a possible suspect in the slaying after looking into a list of past tenants who had lived on the property and discovering he was serving time in Utah for a similar crime.
When he was confronted by Omaha Police in January of 1985 about the murder, Reggie admitted to killing the teen.
Under hypnosis, Reginald told Carlisle he “bounced her off the wall” and “choked her” to death after she had tried to throw away his drugs.
When he was brought out of the hypnotic state, Reggie told Carlisle he initially had no memory of the killing until he was confronted by police with photos of his victim.
“I knew in the back of my mind, you know how in the back of your mind you know you did something wrong, but you ain’t picturing it? And um, when they came and talked to me, and showed me some pictures, I got flashes. Flashes was hitting me like a train, you know?” he described in the recording.
Once Carlisle was aware of the Reginald personality, he worked to help Reggie recall the memories and work through the trauma he had tried to separate.
Before their work together ended, Reggie described in greater detail the day he took Jacoby’s life.
“She tried to throw my stuff away. My coke. My speed. And I was gonna borrow a friend of mine’s car and take her home. But I wanted more drugs right then ‘cause I was coming down,” he said.
After Jacoby started screaming and yelling that he needed to take her home, Reggie said he “went off.”
“I went absolutely bananas. I remember she stopped swinging at me. I ran into the bedroom, sat in there for a while, got my high back up, walked out and said ‘you ready to go home?’ and she wasn’t living,” he said.
Carlisle spent time trying to help Reggie find ways to control his anger before he was transferred out of the prison to go on trial for second-degree murder in Nebraska, where he was convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life.
Reggie was paroled from the Nebraska State Penitentiary in 2021 after serving 37 years.
Although Carlisle’s work with Reggie was never complete, it did give the psychologist valuable insight into dissociative identity disorder he was able to use with other patients.
Watch more episodes of "Violent Minds: Killers on Tape" on Oxygen.com.