Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Graphic: Are you smarter than a serial killer?

Ted Bundy, an organized killer with a high I.Q. gets unruly in a Miami courtroom. Photo: Bill Frakes/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

When it comes to serial killers, two images usually come to mind: the conniving, intelligent killer who toys with police and devises ingenious schemes to keep from getting caught, and the half-witted creeper who stores rotting corpses in the cellar of his rickety cabin. While killers with extremely high or extremely low I.Q.’s may enjoy more media attention than their average counterparts, it turns out, according to a study conducted at Radford University, the I.Q.’s of many serial killers fall decidedly mid-spectrum.

According to the FBI’s Crime Classification Manual, “organized” serial killers, those who plan their crimes carefully and clean up their crime scenes, tend to have above average I.Q.’s. They understand the justice system and forensic, and use their knowledge to evade capture. “Disorganized” killers, on the other hand, tend to have lower I.Q.’s. They are erratic, impulsive, and often have a history of mental illness. The FBI has a third classification: mixed, meaning serial killers who exhibit both organized and disorganized behaviors,

Below is an graphic displaying the I.Q.’s of ten well-known serial killers. Scroll down for stories about them.

Rodney Alcala: The Dating Game Killer

Edmund Kemper: The Co-Ed Killer

Ted Bundy: Most Notorious

John Wayne Gacy: The Killer Clown

David Berkowitz: The Son of Sam

Robert Hansen: Alaska’s Woman Hunter 

Robert Pickton: The Pig Farm Killer

Aileen Wuornos: The Killer Prostitute 

Ottis Toole: A Lover and a Killer

Derrick Todd Lee: The Baton Rouge Killer


Originally published January 29, 2013.

We're Following
Slender Man stabbing, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Gilberto Valle 'Cannibal Cop'