He has been married at least seven times over the last three decades. According to some of those wives, a former fiancée and girlfriends, Chinn has left a trail of heartache across five states. Women, like Chinn’s fifth wife, Cynthia Castile of Eagle Creek, Ore., say he has left them in financial ruin.
"It makes me sick to my stomach," she said.
Chinn’s former fiancée, "Michelle" of Boise, Idaho, said she fell victim when Chinn pretended to be a naval reserve officer and was deployed to Iraq. He was actually on the Oregon Coast, married to another woman.
"When they call them con artists, that is what they are, they are artists, " Michelle said.
The women are telling their stories in the hopes they can protect other women from the same fate. Wayne Chinn was most recently married in September 2007. Less than a year later he has been using Craigslist.com personal ads to find another relationship. His ad states he’s looking for "A Great Woman." It states he is a chef and naval reserve officer. The On Your Side Investigators replied to the ad undercover, and Chinn responded within two and half hours, writing: "Forward a contact phone number, and possibly a picture."
In mid-May, Chinn set up a MySpace page. His profile says he is "single."
Chinn’s trail of wives began in Centralia, Wash., in the late 1970s, where he married wife No. 1 and had two children. After a divorce, he married his second wife. In 1981, an article in the Tenino Independent Newspaper described how Chinn burned down a lumber mill where he was a security guard. Prosecutors said he committed arson while trying to prove the company needed his services and should not lay him off.
After prison, Chinn lived with his third wife in Bellingham, Wash., and became the parent of his third child. While he was still married to her, court records show he was married to a fourth wife. Court records show Chinn got an annulment, called a "decree of invalidity of marriage" from one wife, and a divorce from the other and avoided prosecution for bigamy. Chinn’s third wife said that Chinn left her in a "financial black hole."
In 1999, Chinn dated Cynthia Castile while they worked together on a cruise ship. "Wayne came on board, and, of course, swept me off my feet, said all the right things I needed to hear at that point in my life," she recalled. But the honeymoon and marriage didn’t last.
Chinn went to prison in Washington state for bail jumping after he was convicted of victimizing someone else in a forgery crime. Castile said she spent about $14,000 defending her then husband.
After prison, the couple was going to start a new life in Estes Park, Colo. Castile said Chinn moved first to get established. Still back at their home in Tillamook, Ore., Castile would learn she wasn’t Chinn’s only wife.
"So I called what I thought was his place of employment, and Sharon says ‘He doesn't work here,’ and I said, 'He doesn't?' She says 'No, I fired him in December.'
And I say, 'That's interesting,' and she says, 'But he's still in the area, him and his wife have a gift shop in downtown Estes Park,' and I said, 'His what?' She says, 'His wife.' I said, 'I'm his wife.' She says, 'Well he's got two then, doesn't he.' "
Castile pressed charges, and Chinn was convicted of bigamy in Tillamook County.
"I don't know if he has the ability to tell the truth," said Michelle, looking back at her roller coaster engagement to Chinn. "It isn't about a love gone wrong. The whole thing was a scam", she says.
Michelle and some of the other women say Chinn played on their sympathies with a tale about his two children being killed in a car accident.
But the On Your Side Investigators have learned those children, from his first marriage, are now adults. They are both alive and well.
The women also say they had to live with the constant knowledge that Chinn could be called to duty anytime as a naval reserve officer. Cynthia Castile even received e-mail messages from two admirals. One message said "Commander Chinn" was assigned to "Homeland Defense."
While Chinn was with Michelle in Idaho, he got word he was being sent for duty in Iraq.
"I'm getting called by the reserve," said Chinn in a message left on Michelle’s answering machine. She began saving voice mail messages when somebody began using her credit cards in Oregon while Chinn was supposed to be overseas.
In February of last year, Chinn left another message and interrupted himself to give military orders: "Hey you. Hold on just a minute. Roger that enterprise 6-7. Message confirmed. Be prepared for that. Secondary is on its way to you as I speak. Anyway, just calling you."
Then Michelle got the news that Chinn was critically wounded in Iraq with a spinal cord injury. An army officer, identified as "Col. Christian," e-mailed Michelle about another terrible discovery: Chinn was also suffering from colon cancer.
By e-mail, Chinn berated Michelle for giving him "attitude" when she urgently inquired about his condition and chemotherapy. Chinn informed her that doctors were seeing an "increase in cancer cells."
Chinn asked Michelle to send him a care package to the military hospital in the Middle East that included tennis shoes. Three days later, in mid-September 2007, she bought him new Nikes. The On Your Side Investigators have determined that was the very same day Chinn was actually in Seattle getting married to his seventh wife.
Official Navy documents reveal Chinn actually left the Navy in 1978 after serving as a cook. During the period Chinn was supposedly in a war zone, in a two-front battle for his life, he was in the Northwest. He and his latest wife were in Reedsport, Ore., preparing to open a new restaurant at the Forest Hills Golf Course.
"He was calling me and giving me this very weak sounding voice from Iraq," said Michelle, "asking me to ‘be sure and not forget the Toyota payment, sweetheart,’ after he was married." Michelle said she had to declare bankruptcy after being left $65,000 in debt.
Late last month, Chinn and his current wife moved out of their duplex in Springfield, Ore. According to her family, they left behind unpaid debts. The couple moved to the mountains of Wyoming, where Chinn was hired at the White Pine Ski Resort near the town of Pinedale to manage the restaurant and hospitality staff.
In Wyoming someone posted another personal ad on Craigslist.com containing similar language to Chinn’s Oregon postings. The ad was signed "W."
When contacted by phone and asked about the many women, Chinn hung up and did not return follow-up phone calls.
Michelle said she filed complaints with police departments in multiple cities, but said each time she was told it is not a crime to lie. That leaves women Chinn has loved and left to wonder who is next and to marvel at how he keeps all the stories straight.
"I have no idea. I really, truly don't know how he does it", said Cynthia Castile. "It just amazes me. It really truly does."
By Dan Tilkin and KATU-TV Web Staff. View a video at this site.
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