The next time your daughter brings home a new boyfriend, be sure to ask his middle name

I get a lot of interesting letters in the mail. (To those of you who send me things, I apologize that I so rarely respond. If you want to hear from me, your odds are better — but still not great — on email.)

I got a package recently, however, that really stood out. It came from a Texas woman named M.R. Stewart, who is a proud mother, as well as being grandmother to four pit bulls.

Ms. Stewart has an unusual hobby: clipping newspaper articles of a particular ilk. She sent me copies of her most recent finds. All of these clippings were from her local newspaper, from February 2006 to the present. The articles had two things in common: (1) all of them were stories reporting on crimes, and (2) the perpetrator’s middle name was “Wayne.”

I have to say I was stunned by the number of examples she sent me; in order to protect the potentially innocent, I will obscure their last names:

Eric Wayne XXXXXX — sex charges
Nathan Wayne XXXXXX — kidnapping and beating, homicide
Ronald Wayne XXXXXX — triple homicide
David Wayne XXXXXX — 10 years for practicing nursing without a license
Larry Wayne XXXXXX — homicide
Paul Wayne XXXXXX — Theft
Michael Wayne XXXXXX — theft
Jeremy Wayne XXXXXX — homicide
Garry Wayne XXXXXX — knowingly having unprotected sex when HIV positive
Bruce Wayne XXXXXX — homicide
Joshua Wayne XXXXXX — assault of officer
Billy Wayne XXXXXX — homicide
Billy Wayne XXXXXX — assault
Billy Wayne XXXXXX — attempted murder and robbery
Kenneth Wayne XXXXXX — sex assault
Jerry Wayne XXXXXX — attempted homicide
Tony Wayne XXXXXX — aggravated assault of grandmother in front of her grandchildren, robbery
Larry Wayne XXXXXX — home invasion
Richard Wayne XXXXXX — police standoff
Charles Wayne XXXXXX — homicide

Maybe you could assemble a list this impressive for some other middle name, but I doubt it. Of course, these folks are following the path set for them by the notorious Chicago serial killer John Wayne Gacy, Jr.

(She also collects clippings with middle names that rhyme with Wayne…she sent me 4 DeWaynes, 4 Duanes, and 2 Dwaynes.)

After going through the package, I pulled my two oldest daughters aside (they are six) and told them they were not allowed to ever have a boyfriend with the middle name “Wayne.” Olivia, who is obsessed with a boy named Thomas in her class, is going to check on his middle name tomorrow.


kr8tr

Funny. I had a bright young guy working for me who went my "wayne" (his middle name) because he was tired of the "This is my brother Derryl, and this is my other brother Derryl" jokes. Perhaps he'll like Dwayne better now.

Interesting stuff - dig deeper :)

Rob

jake

Wait... did you seriously just write down the name of the kid your daughter has a crush on?

You are in so much trouble.

- Jake

3612

Steer the daughters clear of Fort Wayne Indiana (a middle name on maps) which has only lonely skyscapers and John Chapman's (aka Johnny Appleseed) burial place to recomend it.

ambrose

You missed another famous one -- John Wayne Bobbitt. His wife is more famous but he's no saint.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorena_Bobbitt

I theorise that any boy called "John Wayne" by his father has grown up with some rather old-fashioned notions of what masculinity means, and perhaps some rather onerous expectations placed on him.

3613

Well said, Pilgrim.

mjs

Oh! The guy who does News of the Weird has been fascinated by this (apparent) phenomenon as well; here's his list.

onlineoddities

I think I have provided this link on this blog before but it's more relevant than ever.

http://www.newsoftheweird.com/wayne.html

Lots and lots of murderous Waynes.

BRK

Uh, Chuck Shepherd's "News of the Weird" started cataloging "the middle name" years ago. Check http://www.newsoftheweird.com/wayne.html for the definitive list.

Alex Tolley

I am somewhat surprized that you don't want to check that this result is really significant. It may well be that the middle name "Wayne" may be very common in the Dallas area. I would like to see an analysis of all criminal middle names and test this using a Fisher test against a directory of residents in the Dallas area. This would provide context to test the sample of clippings against the population to determine its possible significance. Another interesting test, one that was alluded to in the book, is the socio-economic status of boys with Wayne as a name - as this may show a bias too.

Just how difficult would it be to test this? A free phone listing directory or voter register list for the population - an anonymized criminal report list from the police, or perhaps a sample of crime reports over 6 months as a proxy?

wicked

Now I realize what the W in G.W.B stands for.

GamblingEconomist

No offense, but I assumed this post was written by Dubner while I was reading it.

IndyR

If I owned any Kenny Wayne Shepherd CDs, I'd be disposing of them quickly.

Baldwiny

Might I recommend the very funny movie "Happy, Texas" in which Steve Zahn plays the escaped convict "Wayne Wayne Wayne Jr."

GOIANO

What we can tell about Bruce Wayne? Isn't he a hero?

jensfiederer

Amazingly, they left off the worst of the bunch.

From Wikipedia:
Huizenga grew up in a wealthy family whose economic fortunes went up and down. Starting with a single garbage truck, he grew Waste Management Inc. into the largest waste disposal company in the United States, before repeating the process with Blockbuster Video.

He then moved into sports franchises, and owns the Miami Dolphins, as well as Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens.

jensfiederer

Harry Wayne Huizenga, that is.

peter911sc

Let's not forget the notorious Peter Wayne S****** ... oh, wait: That's me! Clearly, I haven't snapped yet, or stooped to such illegal levels, but if I can now claim "my middle name made me do it" ... or just blame it on Levitt (and maybe sue!) Yeah, that's the ticket! Film at 11.

billJobs

Don't you just hate amateur statisticians?

danohuiginn

I have to say this doesn't sound very convincing so far. But I guuess the three possible explanations are:

1. It's nothing, Wayne's aren't more likely to turn up in newspaper crime reports, and this is all down to Ms. Stewart's bizarre obsession. Alternatively, there are a lot of Waynes being reported, but it's just a fluke

2. Newspapers are more likely to print the middle name of criminals called Wayne. After all, it does make them sound like a particular stereotype of criminal. Felons without such an incriminating middle name don't get their middle names in the papers.

3. People with the middle name Wayne are more likely to be criminals who get caught. Is there a correlation between being called 'Wayne' and economic status in Dallas?

wannabef

As one with the acursed middle name, I can state without equivocation that this is no statistical fluke. Whenever I read a crime report or hear one on TV, I cringe -- half wanting to hear half wanting it all to go away -- until the inevitable "Wayne" is read.

I live in Alabama. The Wayne phenomenon is as real here as in Dallas. Here is what I have gathered from my 36 years of suffering:

1. Most of the parents who give their child a middle name of Wayne come from a blue-collar, rural and/or uneducated background. (My parents would fall in the blue-collar and rural categories.)

2. Criminals with the middle name of Wayne are rarely convicted of embezzlement, insider trading or securities fraud.

3. Non-criminals with the name of Wayne tend to work in fields such as used car sales or extermination or they own liquor stores. You've never heard of Wayne's Organic Whole Foods and you never will. Wayne's Discount Gun & Pawn? Bet on it!

Now it could be that men named Wayne become criminals because, honestly, no one wants to be named Wayne. It has become a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. Name your son Tulip and he'll probably finish grade school with a real disdain for competitive sports, especially those that involve hurling large gym balls at ridiculous velocities. Name him Wayne and he'll be casing the local Rob-Me-Mart by age six.

What it all boils down to is this: Wayne is a redneck name. It's even more redneck when you pair it with a two-syllable first name. Even more so when that first name is also of a neckish bent; like say, Terry. Not that I know anyone named Terry Wayne -- goodness, no!

I have yet to commit a major crime. (Oh come on, we've all "tape-delayed" movies and forgotten to record over them... forever.) However, I feel that it is only a matter of time before my cultural destiny kicks in. I'm not a redneck, but with a name like Wayne I'm probably just one flip of a chromosomal switch from the gas chamber!

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