Is Wayne an uncommonly common middle name for criminals?

You may be familiar with Chuck Shepard’s News of the Weird - a weekly column devoted to…weird news articles (duh). One item that is periodically reported and updated is names in the news, in which he reports on people recently charged with murder - often fairly bizarre, but murder nonetheless. The running gag is that Wayne as a middle name seems to show up A LOT. But is this a case of selective reporting, or a more intriguing, and hard to explain, regularity? Is the name Wayne uncommonly frequent as a middle name of murder suspects? How would anyone find out? Has someone? xo, C.

Completely unscientific, but if my middle name was Wayne or Duane I’d murder somebody too…


I’m going to throw out a suggestion, totally unscientific, and let others run with it if they can.

The popularity of John Wayne in the years 1939-1969(or later) might have led parents to use that more as a middle name.

I personally think that a scientific study would prove that Wayne is not much more likely than Robert.

My ex’s middle name is Wain (alternate spelling due to a family name, Wainwright). He owes me thousands of dollars in child support. He had a pretty awful cocaine addiction for awhile, works under the table to evade taxes and child support, and smokes weed several times a day.

Never murdered anyone that I’m aware, but a criminal nonetheless.

A family that thinks it is cool to give its boys the middle name of “Wayne” is probably more likely to produce a criminal than others. Its the parents and environment, not the name. You could probably do a real study where random names are mixed in with criminal names and find that people have a statistically significant ability to pick out criminal names over others. It won’t be 100% of course but “Daryl Ray” is probably more likely to have a record than “Dexter Thurston”. All you are really comparing names that are most likley “black” or “white trash” against middle or upper class names. You can have fun with all kinds of correlations but don’t make too much out of it.

Since 1976, when the U.S. Supreme Court re-allowed the death penalty, 991 people have been executed in the United States. Of those, 19 men (1.9%) had the middle name Wayne — 14 white, 3 black, 1 Native American. Most famous: serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

Heh. “Wayne” is the middle name of me, my father, and his father. I don’t think we have an above-average number of criminals in the family, though. I’m sure we don’t have any serial killers.

I admire your skills. Where did you find this?

It would be interesting to see distribution of how often parents name their children “Wayne” based on income.

It wouldn’t surprise me if it was a more common name in the lower classes, and given that they end up in prison more then their social superiors it would follow that “Wayne” would be a more common name for criminals then for the population as a whole.

Based on Walloon’s cite above, why would you think that “Wayne” was such a common middle name for a criminal?

Most likely John Wayne. He’s probably the most famous Wayne. That’s the reason I would never want to name my kids Wayne, because I don’t want my kids to be associated with John Wayne.

I’m not saying people named Wayne somehow become criminal because of their name. However, if you name your kid hoping his name would be associated with John Wayne (and not some other Wayne, for example) you are most likely an idiot. Now, I don’t have a cite for that, nor do I have a cite for the idea that idiots are most likely to have criminal children, but I seriously doubt anybody ever studied intelligence of people who idolize John Wayne scientifically.

I dunno, but the Wayne=criminal thing is pretty well known. Case in point: A co-worker of mine was recently fired. And apparently, he went on a little (non-violent) crime spree. He’s currently in the county jail. Yesterday, I referred to him as Firstname Wayne Lastname, to the great amusement of my other coworkers.

Well it’s good to see another anti John Wayne fan in the SDMB population. I have made a few unkind John Wayne remarks on this message board. For example, here’s a thread I started over 2 years ago:

Being named Cecil Wayne, I have spent many hours wondering why so many intelligent people are named “Cecil” (Can I suck up, or not?) and why so many murderers are named “Wayne”.
I can only conlude that I hate you all, and th…er, I mean, that it is surely a statistical aberation.

Death Penalty Information Center: Executions in the United States

Popularity Rank of “Wayne” as a Boy’s First Name in the United States

1920: 86
1925: 74
1930: 65
1935: 49
1940: 39
1945: 35
1950: 35
1955: 44
1960: 58
1965: 65
1970: 80
1975: 120
1980: 146
1985: 184
1990: 242
1995: 358
2000: 509
2004: 598

Source: Social Security Administration

“Wayne” was already a popular name in the United States before John Wayne got his first screen credit (1930), became an “A” list actor (1939), or won an Academy Award (1970). At best, he may have moved the name from being the 40th most popular (in 1938) to the 29th most popular (in 1946).

Correction to my post #7 above: 14 white, 4 black, 1 Native American.

Hey let’s not forget that Wayne Newton might have to be factored into this equation.

No cite, but I’m pretty sure I remember correctly that John Wayne Gacy is the inspiration for this recurring News of the Weird feature.