filed in Information on May.14, 2007
People are always interested in how serial killers can get away with their crimes. Of course some of it is luck but many have a higher then normal IQ.
Ted Bundy has been reported as having an IQ of 124 by some and as high as 140 by others. Those numbers place him in the “Superior” rankings. Michael Ross who brutally raped and murdered eight young girls had an IQ of 122. Joel Rifkin tested at 128 even though he suffered from undiagnosed dyslexia and did horrible in school.
When you talk about serial killers and IQ though, you have to talk about the two types of serial killers.
Organized types are usually of high intelligence, have an above average IQ (105-120 range), and plan their crimes quite methodically, usually abducting victims, killing them in one place and disposing of them in another. They will often lure the victims with ploys appealing to their sense of sympathy. Others specifically target prostitutes, who are likely to voluntarily go with a serial killer posing as a customer. They maintain a high degree of control over the crime scene, and usually have a good knowledge of forensic science that enables them to cover their tracks, such as by burying the body or weighting it down and sinking it in a river. They follow their crimes in the media carefully and often take pride in their actions, as if it were a grand project. The organized killer is usually socially adequate and has friends and lovers, often even a spouse and children. They are the type who, when captured, are most likely to be described by acquaintances as “a really nice guy” who “wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
Disorganized types are often of low intelligence, have a below average IQ (80-95), and commit their crimes impulsively. Whereas the organized killer will specifically set out to hunt a victim, the disorganized will murder someone when the opportunity arises, rarely bothering to dispose of the body but instead just leaving it at the same place in which they found the victim. They usually carry out “blitz” attacks, leaping out and attacking their victims without warning, and will typically perform whatever rituals they feel compelled to carry out (e.g., necrophilia, mutilation, cannibalism, etc.) once the victim is dead. They rarely bother to cover their tracks but may still evade capture for some time because of a level of cunning that compels them to keep on the move. They are often socially inadequate with few friends, and they may have a history of mental problems and be regarded by acquaintances as eccentric or even “a bit creepy.” They have little insight into their crimes and may even block out the memories of the killings.
Ted Bundy would be considered Organized. He was good looking, had plenty of friends and girlfriends. He didn’t seem out of place in a crowd. When it came to victims, he would think of a way to almost gain their trust. How dangerous could a man with his arm in a cast be? He surely didn’t look “creepy” or give off any vibes that he had something darker hidden inside. Ottis Toole could be an example of Disorganized. He committed his first murder at age 14. The victim picked him up outside town and drove him into the woods for sex. Afterward, Toole “got nervous” and ran the man down with his own car. Obviously this wasn’t a well thought out murder. It was something that “just happened.” He had an abusive father and a grandmother who called him the Devil’s Child.
The first group of killers I mentioned were all in the higher IQ range. They were mostly organized killers. What about the disorganized killers? Derrick Todd Lee scored a 65 on the IQ test he was given. Ottis Toole was found to have an IQ of 75. That puts them into the “Borderline” and “Extremely Low” rankings.
In the end though, each killer is different and IQ can always be debated. You could be given the same test on two different days and have different results for each one. Intelligence is a tricky thing. Sure, a serial killer might not be able to solve a complex math equation but he sure knows how to out smart the police and authorities. What’s that say for the rest of us?