The X-Files reboot had a hilarious moment in it where Mulder makes a comment that, “once you’ve heard one serial killer, you’ve heard them all” and later in the episode, sure enough a serial killer is caught who rambles in the same way that Mulder had described earlier. This can be true in a lot of cases. You hear the standard “white male, 25-35 years old, single and lives alone…” pretty often. But there are some glaring differences between types of killers and why they do it, and I think one of the most important categories is Product vs. Process.
A Process killer is the one who does it for the process of killing. These are your sadistic killers, like Richard Ramirez (The Night Stalker) or the Toy Box Killer. Almost all torturers fall into this category. Either he has some kind of paraphilia that makes it difficult for him to have sexual release without a certain stimuli that leads to death (sadism, strangulation, stabbing, whatever it may be) or the act of taking a life itself is what he craves. They are normally the most violent and deadly offenders because it’s the killing that they’re after, so nothing they do will satisfy the need except for more killing.
Product killers, on the other hand, are a much rarer and, in the opinion of this blogger, interesting case. Product killers kill in order to achieve some end result. They don’t take pleasure in the killing itself, and in some cases wouldn’t even do it if it weren’t for needing the end product. In the case of Jeffrey Dahmer, this end product was a comatose sex slave that would never leave him. For Ed Gein, it was womens skin – for suits and for reupholstery purposes. Some Black Widow killers also fall into this category – they don’t necessarily want to go through the process of strangling or poisoning their husband, they just want him out of the way. Similarly, Angels of Death don’t necessarily enjoy the act of poisoning their victims – it’s the martyr-complex like feeling they get that they’ve provided “mercy”.
Obligatory: serial killing is wrong, whether you’re doing it because you like cutting up pretty girls with chainsaws or you just want some cool skulls for your Satanic altar.