Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Too Many Waynes II

Back in February, I posted a strange little bit about the number of people on death row having the middle name of Wayne. I'll repeat the post in its entirety, then I'll expand on it with some new findings. So once again, I present Too Many Waynes.
One of the fine books ever written is The Sneetches and Other Stories. One story in that collection is "Too Many Daves." At the risk of a stop-and-desist order, I include the story below in its entirety.
Did I ever tell you that Mrs. McCave
Had twenty-three sons, and she named them all Dave?
Well, she did. And that wasn't a smart thing to do.
You see, when she wants one, and calls out "Yoo-Hoo!
Come into the house, Dave!" she doesn't get one.
All twenty-three Daves of hers come on the run!

This makes things quite difficult at the McCaves'
As you can imagine, with so many Daves.

And often she wishes that, when they were born,
She had named one of them Bodkin Van Horn.
And one of them Hoos-Foos. And one of them Snimm.
And one of them Hot-Shot. And one Sunny Jim.
And one of them Shadrack. And one of them Blinkey.
And one of them Stuffy. And one of them Stinkey.
Another one Putt-Putt. Another one Moon Face.
Another one Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face.
And one of them Ziggy. And one Soggy Muff.
One Buffalo Bill. And one Biffalo Buff.
And one of them Sneepy. And one Weepy Weed.
And one Paris Garters. And one Harris Tweed.
And one of them Sir Michael Carmichael Zutt.
And one of them Oliver Boliver Butt.
And one of them Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate . . . .
But she didn't do it. And now it's too late.
Chuck Shepard, at his blog News of the Wierd, notes that a disproportionate number of notorious murderers have the middle name of Wayne. I hadn't thought about it before, but he's right. John Wayne Gacy immediately comes to mind. At Chuck's site, he presents his list of 224 instances. He stopped counting in March of 2008.

I decided to check my database of people executed by Texas for people named Wayne. I found 21 out of 464. That's almost 5% of the total. In each case, Wayne was the middle name. Never the first name, never the last name, always the middle name.

If Texas executes Michael Wayne Hall on 15 February, as they are scheduled to do, he will be number 22.
An insightful commenter noted that the execution of Michael Wayne Hall was to be followed by the execution of Timothy Wayne Adams. Both executions went off like clockwork.

For what it's worth, here is the my list of people executed by Texas having the middle name of Wayne, listed in the order of their date of execution.
Michael Wayne Evans
Billy Wayne White
David Wayne Spence (probably innocent)
Larry Wayne White
David Wayne Stoker (probably innocent)
Jonathan Wayne Nobles
Richard Wayne Smith
Alvin Wayne Crane
Thomas Wayne Mason
Richard Wayne Jones (probably innocent)
Randall Wayne Hafdahl, Sr.
Gerald Wayne Tigner, Jr.
Gary Wayne Etheridge
Allen Wayne Janecka
Dennis Wayne Bagwell
Lonnie Wayne Pursley
Melvin Wayne White
Derrick Wayne Frazier
Michael Wayne Richard
Kenneth Wayne Morris
Bobby Wayne Woods
Larry Wayne Wooten
Michael Wayne Hall
Timothy Wayne Adams
That's 24 by my count, roughly 5% of the 475 executed. I've identified three of them as being probably innocent. Assuming that the three each had a 70% chance of being factually innocent, that would be cause the expected number of innocent people in the collection to be 2.1. For the statistically impaired among you, 2.1 = 3 x 0.7.

Once again, a collection of death row names seems to include 10% who are (or were) factually innocent.

I have recently reviewed the cases of more than 300 inmates now residing on Texas death row. Most I gave only a cursory review, enough only to satisfy myself that there was little chance of their factual innocence. A few I spent more time with as I tried to get an initial sense of whether they might be factually innocent. I noticed as I worked through the list of 300+ names, a lot of them had the middle name of Wayne. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was. Here are the ones I found, listed in order of their arrival on death row.
Randall Wayne Mays
Demetrius Wayne Smith
Chris Wayne Shuffield
Robert Wayne Harris
Coy Wayne Wesbrook
Paul Wayne Slater
Carl Wayne Buntion
Billie Wayne Coble
Roger Wayne McGowan
Michael Wayne Norris
Nelson Wayne Mooney
That's 11 by my count, somewhat less than 4% of the 304 people I count as being on Texas death row. (I think my count is a bit low.) I don't believe any of them are factually innocent of the crime for which they are to die. On the other hand, I find 25 people on Texas death row who might be factually innocent. That's around 8% if they all pan out. I'm looking into the cases more carefully before I publish their names.

According to, there are 389,011 people in the U.S. with the first name of Wayne. That represents about 1.2% of the total population of the U.S., roughly 2.5% of the male population. (Almost all the people on death row are male.) None of the people executed or awaiting execution by Texas have a first or last name of Wayne.

I find a reasonable explanation for all this Wayne business at Researcher davidsarokin searched some databases other than criminal databases and found the Wayne is a common middle name for non-criminals as well as criminals. Wayne, as it turns out, is a far more common middle name than it is a first name. From a couple university student databases, he found that university students use Wayne 2 to 5 times more frequently as a middle name than as a first name. Among lawyers, Wayne is used 18 times more frequently as a middle name.

So finally I will be able to sleep. I no longer have to wonder if or why there are too many Waynes on death row.

Maybe instead I will fret about the 10% of 2.5 million prisoners I believe to be wrongfully incarcerated in our country.

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