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Why Do Murderers Use Three Names?

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xomiele, Flickr

I found this article today from Slate.com and found it very interesting. The question they posed – Why do so many murderers use all three of their names? I always thought it was the media that referred to these criminals in this way as a means to prevent mistaken identity. While that is partly true, it’s interesting to me that many “famous” murderers used all three of their names to refer to themselves before they ever committed a crime.

Lee Harvey Oswald, John Wilkes Booth, John Wayne Gacy and Mark David Chapman are some examples. More recent examples are Jared Lee Loughner who shot six people in Arizona last year and Wade Michael Page who is accused in this past weekends mass shooting at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin. It’s not surprising that the media often use first, middle and last names when reporting on these monsters. One reason they do that is to prevent cases of mistaken identity, but did you know that many killers used all three names in public before they killed anyone?

The website gives multiple examples. In fact, they report that nine of the top 20 serial killers (by body count) in the United States, referred to themselves with all three names.

Lee Harvey Oswald, for example, was on a Louisiana television interview in August of 1963 where he discussed his support of Cuban president Fidel Castro. The television host repeatedly referred to him with all three names.  John Wilkes Booth was a well-known actor and preferred to use his middle name in professional settings before he murdered Abraham Lincoln.

James Earl Ray was convicted of the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, but before that time he always made it a point to introduce himself with all three names.

I’m not saying this is in any way a scientific way of trying to catch these killers before they commit a crime, but doesn’t it make sense to maybe pay closer attention? I mean if you’re a doctor who has a patient or a school official who is worried about a student’s mindset. Would it make sense to take this into account? Do they refer to themselves by first, middle and last names?

Something to think about…

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