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Murder of Shirley Wilson by Travis Milligan spotlighted on American Nightmare

Shirley Wilson was murdered by her grandson, Travis Milligan, in the home they shared in Des Moines, Iowa. American Nightmare on Investigation Discovery spotlights the case.

When Wilson’s son went to check on her at home on the night of March 2, 2002, he found her lifeless body.

Police believe she had been stabbed to death the night before.

Deputies with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office were called to the scene. As they were conducting an investigation, Milligan arrived at 10pm.

His family had gone to the police station to give statements; therefore, he was asked if he wanted to give a statement as well.

Milligan agreed and was transported to Des Moines Police Department.

Once there, Des Moines police placed Milligan in an interrogation room and questioned him about his whereabouts.

He told investigators he was at a strip club with friends on March 1, 2002, and did not return to his home until 1am.

Milligan went on to say that he smoked a few cigarettes, but he didn’t hear or see his grandmother.

About 15 or 20 minutes later, he left the house and walked to a convenience store for a pack of cigarettes. Instead of walking back home, he called a friend, D.J. Schofield, to pick him up because it was too cold.

When Schofield arrived, they went to his house.

Milligan said he didn’t know anything about his grandmother’s death until he went back home at 10pm.

However, investigators weren’t buying his story.

They asked to take photographs of him, but he refused and stated that he didn’t want to answer any more questions.

That’s when investigators told him to “wait right here” and left the room.

They did not return until six hours later. During that time, they obtained a search warrant to take photos of Milligan and apparently followed up on his story.

As they were taking photos, they noticed a blood smear on his knee. Test results later determined it was his grandmother’s blood.

After police received a statement from a material witness, Milligan was arrested on charges of first-degree murder.

He was later found guilty and received life in prison.

Milligan appealed his sentence in 2004, claiming “his six-hour detention at the police station was an unreasonable seizure in violation of his state and federal constitutional rights.”

He also contended that the “district court erred by failing to suppress the evidence gathered as a result of his detention.”

His appeal was denied.

American Nightmare- No Good Deed, airs at 9:00 p.m. on Investigation Discovery.

Angelica N. Sumter is a freelance journalist who has covered true crime for more than 10 years. In addition to Monsters and Critics, her work... read more
Angelica N. Sumter


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