This Serial Killer Possessed The Highest IQ

The stereotype of the super-intelligent serial killer is one ingrained in the American imagination. The perception is not without merit, as many serial killers are incredibly smart — Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer are two examples. Several are above genius level, which is widely regarded to be an IQ of 140+. Ed Kemper's was reported to be 145, according to Oxygen.

However, the first thing that needs to be mentioned is that although it is a cliché that serial killers are diabolically smart, the truth is that many of these murderers have average or even below-average intelligence. In fact, it turns out that the average serial killer has an IQ of just 94.5, though Oxygen notes that the dataset appears not to have been updated since 2016. The median IQ of serial killers appears to be even lower, at just 86 points — well below average on both counts.

Nevertheless, the stereotype of the genius serial killer has persisted in the American imagination not only because a super criminal is more interesting, but also because it is probably more comforting than the harsh truth that any bumbling fool can go on a killing spree.

Currently, the serial killer known for having the highest IQ is Charlene Williams Gallego, who Radford University reports scored 160 on an IQ test, putting her on par with Albert Einstein (per Biography).

Charlene and Gerald Gallego are considered the worst murder team in American history

Charlene and Gerald Gallego claimed the lives of 10 people and an unborn child from 1978 to 1980 in a reign of terror that was dubbed the "sex slave murders," writes SFGate. Nine of the 10 victims were young women, and Charlene would lure the girls from malls to a van where Gerald would be waiting. Once the victims were in the vehicle, Gerald would reportedly brandish a gun and would sexually assault them. The victims, half of whom were teenagers, were then killed.

Though Charlene and Gerald were both tried for their crimes, Charlene managed to convince the prosecution that she was coerced into taking part in the killings and was offered a plea deal for testimony against Gerald. She was sentenced to 16 years in prison and has since been released. "I would've done anything I could if I could've stopped him. I know I couldn't have stopped him; I tried to stop him," Charlene said in an interview with CBS Sacramento after her release. However, many are unconvinced of Charlene's protests of innocence, including her own former partner-in-crime.

"The only thing you know is what Charlene Gallego told you, and the only thing she told you is what she wanted you to know," Gerald Gallego said during his trial, as related in R. Barri Flowers' book The Sex Slave Murders.

"She was just as guilty as he was," added Hal Sowers, whose only daughter was one of the Gallegos' victims.

It's likely that the killer with the highest IQ has never been caught

It should be of little surprise that the smartest serial killers were probably never caught. One such possibility is George Hodel, who South Pasadena Review reports scored a 186 on his IQ test. George was considered extraordinary from an early age and was such a renowned musical prodigy that famed composer Sergei Rachmaninoff stopped by the Hodel home to hear him play, says South Pasadenan.

Hodel graduated high school at 15 and enrolled in the prestigious California Institute of Technology, says the South Pasadena High School Alumni Association. He was later to become the prime suspect in the killing of Ruth Spaulding, his secretary at the time, as well as Elizabeth Short, a.k.a. the Black Dahlia. The Los Angeles Police Department even bugged Hodel's home and recorded a chilling exchange when trying to solve Short's murder.

"Supposin' I did kill the Black Dahlia. They couldn't prove it now. They can't talk to my secretary any more because she's dead," he said to a friend (per The Guardian).

However, it was George's own son, who ironically worked as a Los Angeles police officer, who made the strongest argument. In his book Black Dahlia Avenger, Steve Hodel claimed his father committed "dozens" of murders but was intelligent enough to avoid leaving any evidence that could link him to the killings.

Though no charges were brought, The New York Times declared in its review of the book that Steve had "thoroughly ... identified his father as the killer of the Black Dahlia."