Serial killer nurse murdered 85 patients!

Updated: Jun 07, 2019, 14:35 IST | Agencies |

Police suspect Niels Hoegel may have killed more than 200 people

Niels Hoegel
Niels Hoegel

Oldenburg: A German nurse believed to be the most prolific serial killer in the nation's post-war history was handed a life sentence on Thursday for killing 85 patients in his care. The court called Niels Hoegel's murders "incomprehensible" and acknowledged the trial left many families with painful unanswered questions.

Hoegel, 42, killed patients selected at random with lethal injections between 2000 and 2005, when he was caught. Hoegel has already spent a decade in prison following a previous life sentence he received for six other murders.

The exhumation and autopsy of more than 130 bodies were necessary to build the case for the prosecution. Police suspect that Hoegel's final death toll may be more than 200. But the court was unable to say for sure because of gaps in Hoegel's memory and because many likely victims were cremated before autopsies could be performed.

The judge said the number of deaths at Hoegel's hands "surpasses human imagination". He expressed regret that the court had not been "fully able to lift the fog" for loved ones about other likely victims. On the final day of hearings on Wednesday, Hoegel asked his victims' families for forgiveness for his "horrible acts". "I would like to sincerely apologise for everything I did to you over the course of years," he said.

Caught in 2005 while injecting an unprescribed medication into a patient in Delmenhorst, Hoegel was sentenced in 2008 to seven years in prison for attempted murder. A second trial followed in 2014-2015 under pressure from alleged victims' families. He was found guilty of murder and attempted murder of five other victims and given the maximum sentence of life.

At the start of the third trial in October, the court said its main aim was to establish the full scope of the killing that was allowed to go unchecked for years. Victims' advocates say the court has failed woefully at the task, due in large part to Hoegel's own contradictory testimony.

After admitting on the first day of testimony to killing 100 patients in his care, he later revised his statement. He now says he committed 43 murders but denies five others. For the remaining 52 cases examined by the court, he says he cannot remember whether he "manipulated" his victims — his term for administering the deadly injections. The defendant claims, for example, not to remember his first victim, who died on February 7, 2000.

The year his first victim died

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