Robert Wayne Niffen: Carnie Fugitive Sex Offender Nabbed In Santa Fe

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Given two key facts, you could safely probably suppose that 52-year-old Robert Wayne Niffen was a miscreant of some sort. To wit:

1. His middle name is Wayne. 2. He is a carnie.

And its Peace Officer 101 that all carnies with the middle name Wayne should probably be locked up on general principles. (But then if you took all the carnies named Wayne out of the job pool, every midway from here to Kalamazoo would probably close down. Maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing.)

Perhaps fearing those unwritten guidelines, Niffen gave Santa Fe police a fake name when the car he was riding in was pulled over for failing to dim its high-beams in the wee hours of this morning. But he messed up -- he told the cop he was from Iowa and that his name was Wayne Hemmie.

Perhaps that name, along with the fact that no such person seemed to exist, was enough to pique the lawman's interest. On further investigation, the cop learned that Niffen had been sentenced to 57 years in prison in 1981 for the aggravated sexual assault of a 31-year-old woman.

According to published reports, Niffen had illegally departed from the sex offender grid and was also in violation of his parole, the terms of which he was supposed to keep meeting until 2039.

TDCJ records state that Niffen has both violent tendencies and an extensive criminal record, including an old Harris County conviction for burglary with intent to commit another felony. Judging from his varied mugshots in the DPS sex offender registry, Niffen often drastically changes up his appearance.

DPS lists his last address as the Ben A. Reid Correctional Facility, an often beleaguered halfway house for sex offenders on the Beaumont Highway.

NIffen had been working as a games of chance carnie at the Galveston County Fair and Rodeo, and police are investigating whether they can charge him with a crime of some sort for hiring on there under a fake name. (When you are the hiring manager for a third-tier county fair like that one, we're betting you're willing to take some chances on hiring that you might not take if you were hiring for, say, a West U daycare center.)

But it looks like this chameleonesque carnie has handed out his last goldfish for quite some time to come, as Niffen is currently being held without bond at the Santa Fe city jail.

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