Lupron: Homicide of a Husband

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September 18, 2014 | 12 Comments


  1. I am a bit confused about the first bit, she says she told police it was an accident as her husband was putting the gun away. If that’s the case then who’s finger prints were on the gun? if she did do it then it should be her finger prints on the gun, surely it would have been noticed by forensics.

    If I was on a jury I would question this bit because if she cleaned her finger prints off the gun then she knew she had done something wrong which I would imagine doesn’t help her case.

    On the other hand she did confess years later so its a hard one to understand, I don’t think the story says enough to be able to decide.

    I would imagine someone in a drug induced state to be very careless so that bit bothers me, I’m a bit confused by it.

  2. On the other hand if she had no memory of killing him and just remembers holding the gun how does she know it was her that shot him, she may have been taking the gun off him?

    The story has lots of holes in it its not very well told to be honest I think it will leave the reader unsure of what to make of it.

    I’m sure you have far more information though so I apologise for my questions.

  3. I think questions are only natural — especially when someone has given two different explanations of what happened, she’ll realize that both versions may be suspect. Still, I tend to believe Michelle’s account, and also can easily understand why she wasn’t “found out” back in 1993. It’s likely the gun was never dusted for fingerprints, and the “crime scene” not preserved at all.

    Maybe it’s the forensic TV shows that have folks thinking of American law enforcement as terribly scientific and professional. Not necessarily! Tremendous leeway is given to the initial judgment of the cops on the scene, and the police chiefs & prosecutors they report to. Too often those judgments turn on their own biases (racial and otherwise) as to “what kind of person would do this”; their own hazy ideas of how an innocent grieving spouse should act, and whether your actions match that picture; and other totally subjective factors. In a small town, that may include what they know (or think they know) about your personal character and social standing. Add to that the sad fact that accidental firearm deaths are not that rare — about 600-800 per year these days, and likely higher in the ’90’s — and you can see how the death was quietly filed away as “inconclusive.”

    I don’t know if Michelle tried to clean up any evidence; it does sound like she consciously made up a story for the police. That shows she knew killing was wrong; it may not show she understood what she did when she did it. Her state doesn’t sound like the kind of longstanding “mental illness” in which someone might believe their neighbors were CIA spies, and act on that delusional idea in an organized way, over and over. More like a delirium based on sleep or high fever, which could suddenly clear if she were shocked “awake.” Many crimes known or suspected to be drug-induced are murder-suicides. I’ve often thought that might reflect a perpetrator utterly horrified by what he or she herself had done, only moments earlier.

  4. I’m not saying I don’t believe her but I’m not saying I do either you cant form a judgement on such little information. Plus there is a question that needs to be answered and that’s what happened with the gun? and if her finger print weren’t on it why not? that’s all I want to know. I’m not sure any police in this day and age would avoid checking the gun for finger prints that’s standard practice for all police even in third world countries but you still have to ask lots of questions in a murder case otherwise you will have real murderers walking out of court a freeman.

    I’ve been cross examined and I didn’t like it but I eventually understood why they have to do it and did you know a good defence barrister will be the first person to tear you to pieces and his on your side. The courts deal with criminals everyday of the week they know all the tricks in the book that criminals will use to get off so they have to make sure they question everything.

    I followed some of the pistorious trial that’s been going on for months and I was changing my mind everyday with different evidence being bought out from both sides. Nothing is simple or ever an open and shut case everything needs to be checked and questioned.

    I just like to see everything before I make a decision, I don’t know this woman from adam and if its true it was the medication then I’m sure she is going through hell and I would be the first person to have sympathy for her but I need to hear everything first.

  5. I don’t know how to tell you this but I did a search of that woman’s name and came across other people who knew her wanting to know what happened. I left the copy below. I knew something was wrong with this story and Im really sorry for being the one to tell you but you have to know. Her sister who she is really close to has a website up about her although I haven’t visited it because it sounds as if they are all religious freaks but the woman was having an affair with her lodger.


    Help with info on a murder (it gets better)

    Okay, I got some more “info” today and this just gets better ‘n’ better, folks.
    I put “info” in quotes because what I got today is utterly undocumented,
    unconfirmed second-hand info and that should be said up-front here, but it *is*
    from a pretty good source. First of all, if my source is correct (and I’m
    pretty sure she is), then there are a couple of things I’d been told in the
    past that are incorrect:
    First, Nate Millikan (Michele’s current husband) *is*, in fact, the man she had
    the affair with when her first husband was murdered.

    Second, Michele has no children. Apparently, all of the children seen in
    photographs with her are the children of her sister, Tammy, who has like a
    whole boatload of rugrats.

    Okay, those are the “corrections”; here’s the story, including new info, as I
    have been told today:

    This whole drama revolves around an organization called Victorious Christian
    Living International ( where Rich Ritzenthaler is a big cahuna.
    As is well known here by now, the Ritzenthaler family is a “who’s who” of the
    Christian community in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area.
    From what I am now told, Michele Ritzenthaler (Rich’s daughter) married a man
    named Stuart Helton, who worked for VCLI as a family counselor, in the late
    80’s. Apparently, Stuart was a control freak, as is not terribly uncommon in
    the very devout fundamentalist Christian community. Michele was unhappy with
    him and the control he asserted over her, but her father thought Stuart was
    just the greatest thing since sliced bread. Rich and Stuart were very close,
    as they were in-laws as well as working together at VCLI.

    At some point, Michele and Stuart “took into their home” a man named Nathan
    Millikan who was training under Stuart at VCLI to become a counselor. It isn’t
    clear why Nate needed to live with them, but nonetheless, there he ended up.
    While Nate was living with Stuart and Michele, as everyone here can probably
    see coming, Nate and Michele began an affair.

    Michele, the rumor mill says, felt alone in her dilemma, as the only counseling
    available to her (without ruffling any family feathers, that is) would have
    been at VCLI. In her family and amongst her circle of friends and associates,
    divorce was *not* an option, but Michele was quickly running out of *other*
    options. Until she landed on one that apparently looked good to her at the
    time, anyway. She and Nate *together* conspired to kill Stuart.

    On May 25, 1993, Stuart Helton “shot himself in the head” according to the
    *official* findings at the time. The story Michele told, as *I* am told, was
    that Stuart reached up on a high shelf for something, but his hand came across
    the loaded gun. As he pulled it down off the shelf, the gun discharged,
    shooting Stuart in the head. Michele said she saw the whole thing from another
    room. The police apparently believed Michele so *completely* that they didn’t
    even do much of an investigation, not even testing Michele’s hands for gunshot

    Everyone in Michele’s world rallied around her *except* her father, Rich
    Ritzenthaler. Rich wasn’t buying the story and felt as though Michele wasn’t
    being completely honest. At some point, the timing of which is unclear, Rich
    hired his own private investigator to dig for answers. While it isn’t known
    (at this point, anyway) when the PI was hired, it appears that he did come up
    with answers, but they came after Michele and Nate had married and Nate was
    working for VCLI as a counselor.

    It seems that once the “answers” were found by the PI, Nate was fired from VCLI
    and Michele was confronted by family members. As much as Michele and her
    sister (who runs her web site) like to portray Michele as having willingly come
    forward with her confession, that version seems suspect. It is more likely, in
    the eyes of those who were “around” as the events unfolded, that Michele had no

    Michele was indicted for first degree murder but the authorities were willing
    to bargain, mostly because their initial investigation had been so inept that
    it might have been a hard case to try. She plead guilty, instead, to second
    degree murder and was sentenced to 18 years. Fortunately for Nate, the staute
    of limitations had run out for the charges that would have been filed against
    him as a co-conspirator, so he avoided prison.

    Rumor has it that there is good reason for the “Nate’s Notes” page at being “under construction”; Nate’s support of his
    now-imprisoned wife seems to be wavering as his life falls apart around him.
    He cannot get work in his field of “expertise”, as no one really wants a family
    counselor who conspired to murder his married girlfriend’s husband, and he is
    left to wait 18 years for Michele. Those “in the know” say that ain’t gonna

    So, there we are. I’m still asking around, but this is what I have
    “discovered” to date. Sounds to me like a Lifetime Network Movie of the Week!

    • This may be a moot point nearly 2 years after the above post but doesn’t it seem a bit strange that this person makes a point of using the family’s names as though knowing them all well? She doesn’t even know that Michelle’s father’s name is Dave, not even close to any form of Rich. (she didn’t even say Richard, she said “Rich”)

      I happened to have gone through the training offered through VCL and during my training I stayed four nights out of the week at the home of my trainer and her husband (for two years). This would only seem strange if you didn’t know the whole reason for it. The training was five days a week and myself as well as many others lived hours away from VCL and because of their willingness to help others and open their home to trainees I was able to complete two sets of training during that time.

      One of the people who traveled with me was housed at Michelle and Stuart’s home. This was not some kind of weird arrangement, it was intended to help all of us. By staying at the homes of staff members we were given the benefit of our trainers in doing our homework and they even fed us.

      During this time I never saw anything but happiness and warmth from Michelle to indicate she was unhappy and Stuart was a just plain upbeat guy, I never perceived him as controlling.

      I don’t believe Michelle or her defense is trying to use the drug as an excuse, rather I think they are hoping to try to keep this drug from causing further damage to any more people.

  6. From Lynne Millican

    The essence of the details provided in the comments is correct and is information I was made aware of years ago, although the commenter is incorrect in some of her facts (ie, there was no “co-conspiratorial role” of Nate at all, who did not learn of Michele’s homicide until 7 years later). I’ve advised Erin Moosebrugger, Michele’s advocate and friend (not an attorney, btw) of RxISK’s post, and she will be posting a comment to clarify some of the muddying issues left by the poster.

    While the details of an affair surely color and cloud the issues, I did deliberately omit these details on my website, and did put them aside in my mind for someone (anyone) far more qualified than I to sort out. I hope you did not get the impression that I deliberately withheld information from you or deceived you in any way, as that is most definitely not the case – but I do see now in retrospect it would have been far preferable in my website’s post to have comprehensively addressed the entire issue. Especially since, as this commenter seems to imply, the impression might appear as a deliberate attempt to hide or deceive. But there are indeed several easy to find websites describing the affair details, and this information is ‘in the open’ and has never been ‘secret’.

    In my Lupron swiss-cheese brain, it never even occurred to me to bring up these details with you, and just sent you what I had posted last year – and so I do apologize if this was an error of omission.

    My justification at the time for omitting these details from my website was the recognition that many outside-of-marriage-affairs occur without a homicide, and also felt that Michele’s statement in her MedWatch form (‘not a perfect marriage’, “it had problems but we had plans”, ‘were trying to conceive’) left the door open for further elaboration – should anyone take an interest.

    Based upon interviews with Erin and reading the court and some counseling records, my suspicion is that the affair itself could have occurred due to Michele’s altered mental/hormonal state … however, I’ve no real expertise in these matters to make any such statements elsewhere.

    At any rate, indeed it was an interesting post! Of course, to my biased thinking, ‘Lupron and Homicide’ is interesting ‘enough’ …

  7. Michelle, why apologise if you were suffering prescription drug side effects…why apologise if you care claiming that on now hearing of Lupron adverse reactions you realise that that is what you were suffering…why apologise when you are now trying to base your case on prescription drug homicide ideation…

    Some comments here get through…many on various other side effects of sorts are rejected…all who comment on the control of Pharma and the dangers of drug and clinical trial abuses need to be heard….selective monitoring is just another block in the voices of those who suffer! With respect to Dr David Healy, of course!

  8. There is so much misinformation being written here about Michele’s circumstances that I cannot remain silent. I am a good friend and an advocate for Michele Millikan, and have known her for over 30 years. I was present at her sentencing and have visited her regularly over the 12 years of her incarceration, and have heard the story firsthand from Michele’s mouth, as well as reviewing details with her attorney William Foreman. I have also closely read and am very familiar with the police reports, interviews, medical records and court documents involved.

    Some of the information posted is factual but some glaring errors need to be corrected. First, Michele’s father’s name is David Ritzenthaler, not Richard. David did love Stuart like a son and when the police investigation concluded and it was ruled a suicide, David could not believe that Stuart would commit suicide. No one, including Michele’s family AND Stuart’s family ever suspected Michele. David, not wanting the stigma of suicide attached to Stuart’s name, worked to have the case ruled inconclusive and then the case was closed. Nate and Michele did marry and remained married until Michele filed for divorce in 2013. Nate was committed to Michele, visited her at least monthly for a decade of her incarceration, and still loves her deeply. Nate was in no way a conspirator and there was absolutely no “conspiring” to kill Stuart, either on the part of Nate or Michele. Nate learned of the homicide only after years into their marriage, after Michele told him. Nate then revealed the troubling revelation to a counselor who then reported it to the Victorious Christian Living Board. This report did result in a public awareness of Stuart’s homicide, however, according to Michele’s attorney, Michele absolutely DID have a choice in confessing. Attorney Foreman explained that without a confession to the police, in a closed case, it didn’t matter if the whole world knew. Michele could have remained free by not confessing to the police. Attorney Foreman told me he spent a year trying to talk her out of coming forward. Michele could have continued to live her life as a free woman but instead chose to turn herself in and face the consequences of her actions. The judge “rewarded” this courageous act by aggravating a 15 year sentence and giving her 18 years flat time, with no possibility of parole.

    Several years ago at a visit with Michele, the fact that Michele had taken Lupron came up. Michele has no access to a computer or the internet so I began to do some research on the drug. What I found was very disturbing and incredibly revealing – women taking Lupron who are reporting having experienced uncharacteristic behaviors and moods including “out of body experiences, gaps in their memory, rage, mood swings, psychosis, suicidal and homicidal ideation, women not recognizing themselves or their behavior, not feeling like themselves, and the list goes on and on. Literally thousands and thousands of women have posted reports of physical and mental effects and disabilities because of Lupron. After reading them we realized that this could be the answer to the unanswered question of ‘how could and why did this happen?’ At the time of her sentencing 12 years ago we did not have the body of evidence and witness of thousands that we now have today. Lupron was not considered or mentioned at all in the court proceedings nor was it ever considered as a factor in her actions that fateful night. It was a huge relief and revelation to Michele, her family, and friends to finally have a plausible explanation for her incomprehensible behavior. Her guilt or innocence is not in question here. Michele has confessed. The question at hand is could Lupron be the causative factor in behaving in a way so totally out of character for her?

    Michele is not trying to get out of serving her sentence. She knows there will be a day when she can walk free and that Stuart will never have that privilege. She struggles with that fact daily. It is my father and I who have taken on fighting this battle on Michele’s behalf, hoping that a fresh look would be taken at her case in light of this new information not considered at the time of her sentencing. We also know that this fight is not just about Michele, but is representative of every woman whose life has been destroyed by this horrific drug.

  9. Compare the plight of powerless Michele Millikan (serving her 12th year of an 18 year sentence for a homicide in which her Lupron-influenced mental status was never questioned, addressed or acknowledged) with the 2011 case of Maryland’s powerful state Senator Ulysses Currie (USA v. Ulysses Currie, et al, US District Court, District of Maryland. Criminal case No. 1:10-cr-00532-RDB), who was prescribed Lupron for treatment of prostate cancer.

    The Senator, when facing federal criminal charges including bribery, extortion, and making false statements to the FBI, claimed that Lupron made him feel “fuzzy”. The Senator’s urologist testified at trial that Lupron “has side effects that include forgetfulness and loss of reasoning ability.” The Senator’s defense made the claim that the Senator’s “memory and mental capacity has been diminished by injections of a drug called Lupron”, and the Senator’s urologist testified that the Senator’s “mental acuity does seem to have decreased some” … “about 25 – 30% of [Senator’s urologist’s] patients on Lupron experience some cognitive effects. They forget things … they get lost driving somewhere they would never be lost before.” The urologist stated “it was hard to get [the Senator] to understand. You had to say things more than once.” After a 6 week trial, on 11-08-11, the Senator was acquitted of all charges: “Senator’s attorneys paint[ed] a portrait of a man who was disorganized, sloppy … prone to memory lapses, in part because of side effects of [Lupron].” (Note: links to all quotes and articles are posted @

  10. Although lupron ultimately reduces the amount of oestrogen in the body, its initial action is overstimulation of certain hormones. It may be that this initial period of overstimulation is responsible for out of character reactions in certain susceptible people, possibly including violence. Charlton & colleagues (BMJ 2014;349:g6356) recently reported increased rates of violent or accidental deaths with oral contraceptive hormones (usually oestrogen and progestogens). In an article in 1998, I discussed the risk of mental illness associated with hormonal contraceptives and HRT (Price E. J Nutr & Envir Med 1998 S.121-127). Dr Ellen Grant’s website ( also mentions mood changes, sometimes severe with violence, marriage break-ups and abnormal behaviour in children, resulting from these sex steroid hormones.

  11. I am so thankful I found this web site. I’ve been on Lupron for one year and was thinking that I’m losing my mind. It just never occurred to me that the Lupron was the cause. The mood problems have been subtle but growing in intensity. My 27 year marriage almost ended due to to my erratic behavior. Crying all the time, falling in love with one person after another. Moody, angry, confused, not myself, depressed, I could go on and on.

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