Crime – Myths about the Evil Genius Killer – Tutorial for Tru-Crime Fans & Writers

The Unicorn Evil Genius, speaking at Earth Day'70.

Earth Day ’70. The Unicorn

Fans of true-crime books and crime writers  are often drawn to evil genius killer stories. And so are everyday people since these stories both horrify and fascinate us frequently.

Evil genius killer tutorial.

As a service to my fans and fellow true-crime writers, I’m providing another tutorial. This one deals with the myth and facts about one such  killer, Ira Einhorn. Hopefully, you readers will find it interesting. And you writers will find it useful.

Evil Genius Killler - The Unicorn upon his arrest in France.

Evil Genius Killer? – The Unicorn

Many of our feelings and much of our knowledge concerning killers comes from  sensationalized and stereotypic depictions of  them in the news and in entertainment media. However, the fact that most of the cases highlighted are atypical means that we often end up with myths and misinformation.

One such myth is that many killers are super-intelligent, bordering on the genius level. ** Examples are Pablo Escobar, murderous Cartel boss; Ted Bundy, law student and coed killer; and Ira Einhorn, The Unicorn Killer.


This myth interests me because Ira’s an important character in my forthcoming book Privileged Killers.  He was arrested in 1979 for killing his girlfriend and keeping her mummified body in a trunk in his Philadelphia apartment.

Faces of Privileged killer Einhorn & his ex GF whom he killed & mummified.

Privileged killer Einhorn & his ex GF whom he killed & mummified.

After Ira’s arrest and a convincing defense that the CIA framed him, people wondered if he was a genius  or an ersatz, drugged out hippie. Even I, as an acquaintance of his, vacillated between

  • Ira’s brilliant, well educated, and gifted with a  near-prescient grasp of the issues of his day
  • He’s  unoriginal , parroting others’ ideas, and unwashed, crude, and impossibly arrogant.

Ira   claimed he was a genius, alleging he had an IQ in the 130-140 range.

And as Lisa Evans in the Daily Kos put it

“That wasn’t simply the opinion of [him and] his doting mother, who taught him to read almost as soon as he could walk and wasn’t remotely surprised when her son started playing contract bridge on an adult level before he hit junior high.

Making of an Evil Genius? Ira parents relaxing with him as a toddler..

Making of an Evil Genius? Ira parents.

Plenty of 1950’s parents were convinced their offspring were unusually intelligent, after all, and sometimes they were actually correct….

“No, everyone knew it. The high school administration that let him attend the prom in a flannel shirt and jeans…the college professors who excused absence after absence as long as Ira produced a decent term paper at the end of the semester…the mentor who gave him a key to his home and bounced groundbreaking academic theories off him even though he was barely in his 20’s…everyone who met the young Ira was absolutely convinced that he was not only intelligent, but so transcendently intelligent that the normal rules of behavior shouldn’t apply to him.

‘I ought to wring that boy’s neck, but I cannot deny the world Ira,’ said a high school teacher, and he could have spoken for almost everyone the budding author encountered….”

The truth about the Evil Genius Killer.

But Ira’s book put the lie to his genius. Again, Lisa Evans said it well,  “As entertaining, and potentially enlightening, as this wild farrago of graphics, Philadelphian koans, and faux Whitman may have been to Ira and his editors, most reviewers agreed with the Augusta Chronicle that [Ira’s book] was “a meaningless piece of inscrutable sophomoric drivel pretentiously packaged to be passed off as visionary madness.” Sales were anemic…”

The Myth of the Evil Genius Killer.

The fact is almost all killers generally do not possess unique or exceptional intellectual skills. The reality is that most who’ve had their IQ tested score between borderline and above average intelligence. This is very consistent with the general population. Moreover, the majority of killers are garden-variety ones. Intimates that kill other loved ones in domestic violence situations.

Your turn.

Who’s your favorite evil genius killer – real (Ed Kemper?) or fictionalized (John Doe in Se7en). Does he or she live up to the hype?

** A recent example of this is the portrayal of  Arthur Fleck —albeit a fictitious person like Hannibal Lector —in  Joker as an evil genius by Joaquin Phoenix. In fact, as Psychology Today explains Phoenix plays Fleck less as an evil genius than as a  paranoid schizophrenic. 

Cleft Joaquin Phoenix -before and after makeup.

The Mayo Clinic estimates slightly more than 1 percent of the U.S. population suffers from schizophrenia, but almost none fall apart and become suicidal as dramatically as Phoenix in his Oscar performance. I’ll deal with a portrayal of the Joker as a psychopath —by Heath Ledger in Dark Knight — in an upcoming blog.


To learn about CLEFT HEART: Chasing Normal, click the Amazon or Barnes & Noble buttons in the margins. Or click the image of the book cover. My coming-of-age memoir has intertwining love stories, mystery, tragedy, and triumph.

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