Criminals aren't always known for being intelligent, but there are some cold, calculated killers who have extremely high IQs. While it seems like someone who is smart would know better to commit a crime, many violent killers were not only smart but extremely well educated. Street smarts are important to a life of crime, but killers who went to Ivy League schools bring a different type of edge to murder.
Some of these highly educated criminals used their smarts (and their connections) to get off easy - some even got away altogether. But one thing is for certain: their alma maters probably aren't too pleased that these killers attended their fine university.
Lyle Menendez Was A Princeton Student
Lyle and Erik Menendez were the children of Jose and Mary "Kitty" Menendez. Jose was a successful businessman and Kitty a socialite. Although from the outside it looked as though the Menendez brothers lived a picture perfect life, they said they were subjected to pain at the hands of their father. The brothers claimed Jose sexually abused Erik for years and they were frightened what their dad might do to them if they told anyone.
Lyle went on to attend Princeton University, however he was not performing academically and also got caught plagiarizing work. In the summer of 1989, Erik and Lyle shot their parents to death in their lavish California home. The brothers alerted the authorities and pretended as if they had just happened upon the scene. They convinced authorities that it might have been the mob who carried out the killings.
However, Erik later confessed in a session with his therapist, and the therapist went on to tell his girlfriend. She then alerted the authorities - leading to the arrest and subsequent trials. At first, the Menendez brothers were tried separately, but both juries deadlocked. In the second trial, the brothers were tried together. The central debate in the courtroom, and across America, was whether the siblings were spoiled rich kids who killed their parents for the inheritance, or whether they had suffered through a childhood of sexual abuse and committed the act in self-defense.
The brothers' actions after the crime took place didn't look good. They went on excessive spending sprees that didn't sit well with the jury, and some family members adamantly denied that Jose and Kitty would ever commit the acts their children claimed. But others told a different story. Stuart Hart, a child psychologist who worked on the case, has no doubt that the abuse was real. He points to consistent reporting throughout the brothers' childhoods. Two different cousins recounted hearing from the brothers about the abuse when the boys were younger; one who testified at the first trial recalls Lyle being scared to sleep in his bed because his father would come in. Teachers of Erik apparently told Hart that he would cry most days at school. One wanted to report child abuse, but was intimidated by Jose and Kitty.
Whatever the truth, Lyle and Erik Menendez were convicted and are currently serving life sentences for the murders. In 2021, young TikTok users rediscovered the Menendez case and have been campaigning to get the the brothers out of prison, mainly with the argument that they were convicted during an era when sexual abuse and victim psychology was less understood. However, without any new evidence, the brothers are unlikely to get a new trial.
Sinedu Tadesse Killed Her Roommate While At Harvard
Sinedu Tadesse was born in Ethiopia. She was very devoted to her school work and was accepted to the International Community School, graduating second in her class and then was accepted to Harvard University. At Harvard, she received subpar marks and feared not being able to get into a top rated medical school. Tadesse was also extremely lonely, she did not make any friends and even sent letters to random people begging that they befriend her. After her first year, she began rooming with a popular Harvard student named Trang Ho.
Tadesse was extremely fond of Ho and was devastated when Ho decided to live with another group of women in her senior year. On May 28, 1995, Tadesse stabbed Ho nearly 50 times before hanging herself in the bathroom.
The Unabomber Went To Harvard At Age 16
Ted Kaczynski was born in 1942 to a Polish American family living in Chicago. Kaczynski was a prodigy - skipping grades throughout school and achieving profound academic success at an early age. He enrolled at Harvard University on a scholarship at 16 to study mathematics. Kaczynski continued his education after graduating from Harvard and went on to teach at UC Berkeley.
However, he floundered at Berkeley and eventually gave up his academic career around 1970. He moved to a remote location in Montana and began purposefully disconnected from society and technology. Kaczynski would eventually find himself back in Chicago working at a factory, however, he would later be fired for harassing a female coworker. This would be the beginning of his life as a terrorist. Kaczynski started making bombs and sending them to university professors and airline executives.
He was finally caught after his 35,000 word manifesto was printed in the New York Times and Kaczynski’s sister-in-law recognized his writing. An investigation confirmed these suspicions and Kaczynski was arrested in 1996 and was eventually sentenced to four life sentences plus 30 years.
Amy Bishop Was Denied Tenure So She Shot Up A Faculty MeetingPhoto: NBC News
Amy Bishop grew up in Braintree, MA - a suburb of Boston. She graduated from Northeastern University and went on to earn her PhD in Genetics from Harvard University. After a short time spent doing research and teaching at Harvard, she accepted a job at University of Alabama in Huntsville with the option of tenure. However, this tenure would be denied, as well as all of her requests for appeal.
This enraged Bishop. In response, she shot six people, killing three, at a faculty meeting in 2010. She attempted to shoot more faculty members but the gun jammed, preventing further carnage. Bishop was originally sentenced to death, however some victims requested she not be killed. She is currently serving a life sentence in Alabama.