Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Killer IQ Part 1: Using Bodies to Their Best

There is the belief, thanks in great part to the entertainment industry, that serial killers aren't just bright individuals but evil geniuses.  It's an understandable assumption sometimes considering how long these people can go on killing over and over without ever being caught...months, years, decades even.  But rarely (if ever) are there any true genius, Hannibal Lector, types in the group and their intelligence overall depends greatly on how it's being determined.  A great many serial killers would qualify as bright on some levels but downright stupid on others...take Ted Bundy; IQ of 124 or so (a rating of above average/bright) but caught because he let a police officer search his trunk where his rape & murder kit were.

Because the determination of intelligence is so tricky - killer or not - it might be a good idea to use different forms of intelligence rather than just straight IQ ratings.  So, for the purposes of these forthcoming essays, let's review the 8 categories of intelligence as set forth by Howard Gardner in 1983's Theory of Multiple Intelligences and see how some (or at least the "garden variety" forms of) serial killers would rate...and then maybe we'll throw in IQ for good measure.

I Like the Way You Move

The first category is bodily-kinesthetic which has to do with, well, the body, how well someone can move, and even the ability to build or create physical objects.  Those rated high in this form of intelligence tend to learn through doing and have good muscle memory - their bodies recall movements easily; when you perform all the steps to a dance over and over until it grows automatic that's muscle memory.

Gotta say, in this category, most serial killers probably rate pretty high.  If they didn't their killings wouldn't succeed and there'd be far more survivors than victims.  Not that serial killers are muscle men, pictures alone indicate "Greenriver Killer" Gary Ridgway probably would've lost most fights with men...but then he probably knew that and chose his victims and kill method accordingly.  Knowing that, knowing his limits and adjusting for them in order to get the job done, alone makes him smart for this form of intelligence.  Ridgway and other killers also seem to know how to use whatever physicality they have for maximum impact and make up for what they lack.  Small killers who would loose a fight even to a woman might target children or use a blitz attack (sneak up and whack the victim upside the head) first to subdue the person.  Have the urge to strangle a victim but lack the upper body strength?  Use a belt, some kind of pulley system, or hang the person and let their own weight work against them as you watch the life leave their eyes.

As far as serial killer builders are concerned there's no end to the different kinds of contraptions of torture these guys have created...including that pulley system previously mentioned.  But there is one serial killer that really was tops in this department...H. H. Holmes.  In 1893, just in time for the Chicago World's Fair, Holmes opened his self created and built hotel of horrors later to be called the "Murder Castle".  Yes, he did hire teams of builders since the job was so big, but it's highly likely certain rooms - such as the ones set up to become gas chambers - Holmes had to personally work on...otherwise he'd raise some eyebrows even before he got a chance to open for business, as it were.  The fact he went to medical school and, in using his skills for darker purposes, frequently dissected, stripped the flesh from, and then pieced bones together into skeleton models of his victims also all speak to a high level of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.

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