All this discussion of discussion of life after death and rather the faithful should fear death : Why doesn't the verified existence of heaven change characters' attitude toward death? reminded me of an old story Idea of mine.
The basic premise is a serial killer who found religion, but can't overcome his need to kill; instead coming up with a rather twisted view of religion to fit into that need to kill (he doesn't think the killing is moral, but he is trying to do it as close to 'right' since he can't control himself anyways).
He reasons that Heaven is better than life, and so killing someone who is certain to go to Heaven is a mercy. However, killing the most pious individuals is not good because these people are helping to convert and thus save other individuals, a cause worthy of their 'suffering' in life a little longer to do His work. Instead the most important people to kill are those that are at risk of going to either location, if they can do something to just barely earn Heaven it's important to kill them immediately so they don't have time to backslide morally and end up in Hell.
Thus he finds, stalks, and studies morally ambiguous Christians, on the edge of earning Heaven or Hell in his mind, and eventually sets them up with a test. He creates a trap where his potential victim is given a choice to do something great, most likely save the life of someone they think is going to die, but only if they risk their own life.
If, and only if, the victim does the noble deed to save someone they should die, as in doing so they have committed an act good enough to earn Heaven and should be sent there immediately. If they don't risk themselves they must live, so they don't go to Hell yet and have chance to possibly find redemption and earn Heaven before their death.
What I need is a way for the killer to create convincing traps like this that will not lead anyone to believe there is a serial killer on the loose. That means the ones that fail his test and run away should have no reason to think they were being tested or the circumstances were arranged. Likewise those killed should have their deaths ruled as natural causes, accident, or anything other than murder. Since most of the victims come from the same church and are known to many within the church the manner of their death must have either enough variance or ambiguity that no one who has heard of the multiple deaths will notice enough of a pattern for church members to be suspicious.
Ideally there would be just enough of a pattern for the one cynical officer who suspects a subtle serial killer to identify individuals as possible victims without it being obvious enough to convince others or his identifying that they are all being tested before their killed yet.
How can the killer set up his tests without drawing undue suspicion on himself?