People often say that if you've been christened with anything resembling an interesting name, that "you'd better do something worthwhile... like cure cancer". But like most of the population, you've probably been burdened with a truly bog-standard name by two parents who - when push literally comes to shove - couldn't be bothered with using even an ounce of imagination and simply picked the first name that popped up, or appeared in an alphabetical list of baby names.
And yet, when parents do decide to master the art of forethought, they either go old-school with a name like "Archie" having heard it's fashionable again, settled on "Moonbeam" because they're fans of yoga, togas, lay-lines and tofu, or something preposterous like "Thaddeus Badaaaaaass Krakatoa Mo-Fo" because "the world will always need drug-dealers".
So, what does your name say about you? Obviously we'll never have a Prime Minister called Wayne, just like we'll never see a warlord called Trinnie, a pope named Bob, or (hopefully) a gynaecologist called Fanny. But serial killers and mass murderers? There's no name based criteria on who's going to become a major league nut-job, now is there? I mean, who's more likely to kill, an "Amy" or an "Aaron"? Most likely to massacre, a "Wendy" or a "William"?
Are you more or less likely to become a serial killer based on your first name?
What follows is top ten most popular men's names of serial killers in the UK & USA, and the top five names for female mass-murderers (slightly less as women are obviously better behaved, have a stronger self-control, and tend to be a little less "stabby" than men), but it'll give you a clue as to who - near you now - is most likely to be a serial killer.
TOP TEN NAMES OF MEN MOST LIKELY TO BE SERIAL KILLERS:
#10 - Anthony/Tony (5, inc' Anthony Hardy alias "The Camden Ripper")
#9 - Peter (6, inc' Peter Sutcliffe alias "The Yorkshire Ripper")
#8 - Joseph (6, inc' Naso, Taborsky and "The Midtown Slasher")
#7 - Michael (7; Ryan "The Hungerford Killer" and Lupo "The Wolf Man")
#6 - David (7, inc' "The Trailside Killer" and Berkowitz "The Son of Sam")
#5 - Stephen/Steven (8, inc' "The Crossbow Cannibal" and "The Suffolk Strangler")
#4 - Richard (9, Ramirez "The Nightstalker" and Cottingham "The Torso Killer")
#3 - William (10, inc' Burke & Hare "The Body Snatchers")
#2 - John (11, inc John Reginald Christie, John George Haigh "The Acid Bath Murderer" and John Wayne Gacy "The Killer Clown". And the number one is....
#1 - Robert/Bobby (totalling 15 serial killers, and yet very few who are notorious)
Those lower down on the list, with less than five serial killers but more than one, include Arthur (2), Christopher (2), Colin (2), Daniel/Danny (3), Dennis (2), Derrick (2), Edward (5), Frederick/Fred (3), Gary (3), George (2), Gerald (4), Gordon (2), Harvey (3), Henry (2), Herb/Herbert (3), Kenneth (3), Larry/Lawrence (2), Patrick (2), Paul (4), Phillip (2), Randall/Randy (2), Ray/Raymond (3), Scott (3), Thomas (3), Timothy (2) and Wayne (2). If you made it onto this list, well done... erm... I think. You weirdo!
In conclusion: if you're a man, the more boring, tepid and wet that your first name is, the more likely you are to be a raving maniac. Whereas, those of you whose parents actually bothered to give you a name which doesn't make you wince, then you're probably well-adjusted, have tools for gardening, bin-bags for trash, and the only meat you'll ever eat, or skin you'll wear... belongs to a recently decapitated animal's corpse. Which is morally and legally okay. Okay?
And now for the ladies. Married gentlemen? Read this carefully.
TOP FIVE NAMES OF WOMEN MOST LIKELY TO BE SERIAL KILLERS:
#5 - Jane/Janie (2 killers, inc' Toppan, a nurse who poisoned 31 patients)
#4 - Margaret (2; "Baby Farmer" Waters and Higgins "Black Widow of Liverpool")
#3 - Lydia/Lyda (2; both of whom were notorious husband poisoners. Eek!)
#2 - Catherine (2, husband poisoners, and killer nurses. Men! Run!)
#1 - Mary (3, multiple husband poisoners, baby-drowners and swindlers)
Those who are lower down on the list, with only one female serial killer, but of whom any man should avoid marrying include Aileen, Amelia, Amy, Anna, Bertha, Beverley, Charlene, Cynthia, Dana, Delphine, Dorothea, Faye, Gwendolyn, Cathy, Judy, Kimberly, Kristen, Linda, Louise, Marie, Martha, Myra, Nannie, Rhonda, Rosemary, Shirley, Tillie and Velma.
In conclusion: you are more likely to be a notorious female serial killer if your first name starts with any letter from J to M, or if your name is more unusual than most.
That said, I would just like to point out that my step-mother is called "Catherine Mary" (#2 & #1 on the list) and that her sister is called Margaret (#4). See dad? I told you she was evil. :-) Thank you. I'm now off to call the Police.
If you're worried that someone you know may be a serial killer, I'd strongly advise reading this invaluable check-list on "How to Spot if your Work Colleague is a Serial Killer"
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten quirky & unusual things to do in London” and featuring 18 murderers, 3 serial killers, across 21 locations, totalling 75 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime historian, writer and tour guide of Murder Mile Walks.