Names and nicknames

The NCMEC just put up today the poster of one B. Hansen, an Arizona middle-schooler who’s been missing since 1995. NCMEC says his name is Brad, and just about every account calls him Brad, but I have it on good authority that his legal name is Bradley.

I have trouble sometimes with trying to figure out whether the name used in the articles etc. is really the MP’s name, or whether it’s a nickname. This goes back to one of my earliest cases, the Gaffney case of 1927. For years I called him Billy and you can see his URL still says Billy. An embarrassingly long time passed before I found out his real name was William.

Because, sometimes people choose nicknames as legal names. In 1923, the year Billy Gaffney was probably born (I don’t have his DOB but he was four when he disappeared), Billy ranked 78 on the list of most popular names given to baby boys. William ranked 3. If all the sources I can find refer to the MP as Billy (or Willie, or Bobby, or Ricky, or for girls Maggie, Betty, etc.), I find myself obliged to do so as well even if I have a suspicion that that’s not the correct legal name. It seems right to call MPs by their legal names on Charley, even if they weren’t addressed that in real life.

I encountered a kind of similar problem with Neo Babson Maximus. His birth name was Charles Allen Jr. and he legally changed it only a month before he disappeared. Everybody he knew still called him Charlie and I got some emails from people asking why in heck was I calling him by that silly name when his family and friends had posted “Find Charlie Allen” websites. (Wearily, I would direct them to the Distinguishing Characteristics part of his file.)

I have the same problem when people are addressed by their middle names. Like how Craig Dowell was actually Edwin Craig Dowell and it took me awhile to figure that out.

Ah, the many challenges of a Charley Project administrator…