In this life, most of us expect to have a story with a definite beginning and a definite end. Harry Dennis Milligan had neither that we can tell a tale of 37 years have gone by and his family and his community are still hoping for answers.
Harry was born under unknown circumstances to unnamed parents. We don’t know their reasons for giving him up but we know that he was adopted by Leonard Milligan and his first wife when he came into the world. Harry was born in Denver, Colorado on October 4, 1962 with two clubbed feet and after adoption they were surgically corrected. (Since the original writing of this page Harry’s adoption records were opened and familial DNA was obtained, the DNA was ran through CODIS and no matches were found)
Leonard later remarried and his second wife, Vicki, became Harry’s mother and the couple raised him as their own. Not long after they adopted another son, Mark. Harry and Mark were raised up as brothers. Harry grew up in Monroe County, Iowa. He attended Albia, Iowa schools and participated in football, basketball, and golf all through High School. He was smart and funny and always made the Honor Roll.
Harry and his brother both enlisted in the Marines just as their dad, Leonard had. Harry as a reservist and Mark went in full-time. Harry did his basic training in San Diego, California and then went home to enroll at Northeast Missouri State University in Kirksville, Missouri. According to his college friends Harry was having a hard time in college; it just might not have been for him. He may have even dropped out completely. He was still young and liked to go home on the weekends and party. During the summer of 1984 he was home from college and working for Steve Maddy painting a house in Albia.
On a typical Iowa summer night, June 30th, Harry left his home in Avery and told his mother, Vicki he was going out to “meet the guys” in Albia. Early in the evening multiple witnesses say they saw Harry pulled over by city officer, Larry "Popcorn" Jones. Jones doesn't recall pulling Harry over that evening. Harry then spent the night cruising the square, drinking beers, talking to friends, and even won some money playing cards at a bar called the Waterworks owned by Mike (Clouse) Stocker. According to others there that night “All was good”. After 2 a.m. the stories are a bit hard to put together, but this is the best that could be ascertained from the three friends that saw him last. Harry got into Steve Rockwell’s car with Steve and Jeff Adler and supposedly drove around drinking. At some point another friend, Doug Maddy was picked up. The stories differ about when Maddy was dropped off, before or after Harry. Steve drove Harry and Jeff back to the Albia Library where their cars were parked. They were dropped off between 3 a.m. – 4:30 a.m. in the morning on July 1st, 1984. Steve said that he saw Harry’s taillights as Harry’s car turned toward the Waterworks Bar headed to Main Street. Jeff Adler and Doug Maddy both recalled seeing Harry driving towards his home on north Main Street. Officer Larry Jones has said that he may have seen Harry dropped off at his car at the library around 3. These are the last known people to have admittedly seen Harry alive. This is also where and when Harry Dennis Milligan just vanished.
The sun rose just after 5:30 a.m. that morning; and by 9:30 a.m. that morning locals had gathered at a softball field in Albia. They were getting irate that Harry hadn’t arrived yet. Harry had the balls and bats for the slow pitch game. This was one of his favorite past times. There were no cell phones back then, someone ran home and called Harry’s mom, Vicki. She said he hadn’t come home that morning and she started to make calls to Harry’s friends. Vicki even called her other son, Mark at his base in San Diego to ask if he had heard from his brother. Several friends went looking for Harry in town and the road Harry would have taken home was searched extensively for a possible wreck. Steve Rockwell said he had dropped Harry off around 4:30 and that was the last he saw of him, saying he got home around 5 that morning. He expressed that it looked like Harry had been headed home. Jeff Adler had a similar story except that he said he and Harry were dropped off at 12:30. Though they were drinking, no one thought that Harry had been particularly drunk.
At approximately 7:30 p.m. on July 1st Harry was reported missing by his mother to the Albia Police Department. At which time Harry and his vehicle were entered into the NCIC database. The case was investigated by Monroe County Sheriff, Denny Carr. Denny retired in 1985 but continued to investigate the case as a private investigator. The last thing that Denny Carr said to Harry’s brother Mark was “I'm sorry that I was never able give you and your family closure on this.” Denny was never able to bring forth any suspects or find Harry’s body. Harry’s family never believed that he ran away or took off voluntarily. In 1992, Harry’s family had to have him declared deceased. It was very traumatic for his parents. Vicki often said she would believe he was alive until her dying days and that the death certificate was just a formality. Sadly both parents died before they ever got any answers about what happened to their son.
37 years have gone by; we can’t wait another 36 years for answers. By then most of the people who knew Harry, who grew up with him, went to school with him, worked with him, played sports with him and who loved him will be gone. We started a Facebook group, Harry Dennis Milligan :: Still Missing on September 27, 2020 and we were up to 500 members in a matter of days and that number keeps increasing daily! We are posting and talking about him daily, posting photos and documents related to the case! This report is the result of all of the active conversations and memories being shared by the group. However, we need help, we need more voices. We need to find Harry in order to give this family and the community some closure.
If you have any information that could lead to the discovery of Harry’s birth family or about his disappearance please contact Mark Milligan through our contact page, The Monroe County, Iowa Sheriff’s Office at 641-932-7815, or the Missing Person Information Clearinghouse / Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at 1-800-346-5507.