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…

7 thoughts on “Names and nicknames

  1. forthelost August 22, 2012 / 11:52 pm

    I’ve had this problem with a few California Kids cases. I usually keep the initial listing in the photo directories but use the full name on the poster, i.e. Connie Smith, Louise Davis, Alex Hernandez. Since in all those cases the news articles have called the person by that name I figure that makes it easier to find if they google the person.

  2. Justin August 23, 2012 / 1:31 am

    True story. I was in a cafeteria where two guys were arguing if the real first name of some famous porn star named Jenna Jameson, whose real name was supposedly Jenna Marie Massoli, was Jennifer or Jenna. Guys from neighboring tables got involved with the argument/discussion. I’m pretty sure I’m never going to meet the woman, but if I ever do, I’m going to ask what her first name is on her birth certificate just so I can stop that question from popping up in my head every time I hear her name.

    • Meaghan August 23, 2012 / 2:21 am

      I once got into a heated argument with a friend about whether the black track star’s name was Jesse Owens (my position) or Jessie Owens (his). It turns out his name was James Cleveland Owens so we were both wrong.

  3. Princess Shantae August 23, 2012 / 7:24 am

    Yeah, Jesse Owens was called J.C. at home and when he went to school he told the teacher his name was J.C. She couldn’t hear him good for all the noise in the room and thought he said Jesse and it stuck.
    There is a little girl in my daughter’s class who everybody calls Jacy and that’s how it looks on most papers and things from school. I was surprised when I found out her name is really Jocelyn Shay Lastname.
    Oh and I went to school with a boy who I only knew as J.R. It wasn’t till almost graduation time that we found out his name was Ira Junior. I couldn’t blame him.

  4. Bela August 24, 2012 / 8:31 am

    My sister went to school and was friends with twins named Robby and Bobby. I just assumed those were their full first names. It was years before I found out Robby’s real name was Robert and Bobby’s was….. wait for it…..BOBERT. WTH?!?!?

    • Meaghan August 24, 2012 / 6:44 pm

      That is terrible. Bobert is going to live with a lifetime of people getting confused by his name.

    • forthelost August 24, 2012 / 8:42 pm

      As a twin, I will say the number one thing to remember about twins is never ever give them matching names. No rhyming, no reversing the names for the first and middle, no same name with the sex changed. My name is a mouthful, but at least it doesn’t match my sister’s.

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