COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ A man with multiple personalities who was a fugitive for five months from an Ohio mental hospital is a suspect in the disappearance of a university student in Washington state, police say.

William Milligan, 31, was arrested last week in Florida. He walked away July 4 from the Central Ohio Psychiatric Hospital in Columbus, where he was sent after being found innocent by reason of insanity in 1978 on charges raping three women.

Milligan, believed to display up to 24 distinct personalities, used the name Christopher Carr in Bellingham, Wash., where he became acquainted with Michael Madden, 33, while they lived in the same apartment house, police said.

Madden has been missing since his landlady last saw him with Milligan on Sept. 15.

''He's very definitely a suspect,'' Bellingham police Lt. David MacDonald told The Columbus Dispatch for a story published Wednesday. ''We questioned him a few times; he told us several different stories and then he disappeared.''

MacDonald believes Madden has been killed.

A Franklin County official said there has been no official contact yet with Washington authorities about the Madden disappearance.

Assistant Prosecutor Ed Morgan said his office has not received any other inquiries from law enforcement authorities about possible links between Milligan and unsolved cases in their jurisdictions.

He also said it may be known by Monday whether Milligan will be returned to Ohio from Florida.

''We are very interested in having our escaped mental patient back,'' Morgan said. ''But that decision at this time is in the hands of the FBI because they apprehended him. They have set a deadline of Monday to decide who gets him first.''

U.S. Attorney Michael Crites said by telephone from his Dayton office Wednesday that a removal hearing is scheduled Monday before a U.S. magistrate in Miami.

MacDonald said Bellingham detectives have asked the FBI to question Milligan further about Madden's disappearance.

Madden's father, Warren, said he thinks his son was a crime victim.

''He was too honest and considerate to just run away like that,'' he said. ''If he was going to take off, he'd call. He'd never do anything like this to his mother. It's all very sinister.''

Madden was a full-time student at Western Washington University in Bellingham, 90 miles north of Seattle. He didn't work and lived on a Veterans Administration disability pension.

MacDonald said police found a note in Milligan's apartment indicating he took Madden to Canada to protect him from an abusive father. MacDonald said the note appears to be an attempt to sway detectives from pursuing Milligan.

MacDonald also said Milligan sold Madden's car a few days after the student disappeared. Milligan told investigators that he loaned Madden money and that Madden gave him the car in exchange for the loan, the officer said.

Also, someone rented a post office box in Madden's name and diverted all his money there, including a $7,000 GI Bill check for his education, he said.