BERLIN, Aug 28, (Agencies): A male nurse jailed for life two years ago for killing two hospital patients with lethal drug overdoses murdered at least 90 patients in total, and possibly twice as many, police said Monday, calling it post-war Germany’s worst killing spree.
Niels Hoegel, 40, was jailed in February 2015 for two murders and four counts of attempted murder or causing bodily harm on intensive-care patients at the Delmenhorst hospital near the northern city of Bremen.
Police said Monday that forensics experts had since exhumed and analysed more than 130 additional bodies and had found evidence of a vastly higher death toll at two hospitals where Hoegel had worked between 1999 and 2005.
“The insights we were able to gain are terrifying, they surpass what we could have imagined,” said Johann Kuehme, police chief in the city of Oldenburg, where the other hospital is located.
The death toll “is unique in the history of the German republic,” said the chief police investigator in the case, Arne Schmidt, adding that Hoegel killed “without a discernable pattern” and preyed especially on those in critical condition.
There was “evidence for at least 90 murders, and at least as many (suspected) cases again that can no longer be proven,” he told a press conference, declaring himself “speechless” at the outcome.
Hoegel has admitted to injecting patients with drugs that can cause heart failure or circulatory collapse so he could then try to revive them and, when successful, shine as a saviour before his medical peers.
He earlier testified that at times he acted out of “boredom”, that he felt euphoric when he managed to bring a patient back to life, and devastated when he failed. After the revelations, police and prosecutors three years ago launched a special forensic commission dubbed “Kardio” (Cardio) to look into other patient deaths.
Presenting their findings, police said Monday that 134 bodies had been exhumed and tested for traces of the deadly drugs, and that police also reviewed scores of medical records and questioned hundreds of witnesses.
The cause of death in many cases could not be determined because the bodily remains had been cremated, said Kuehme.
The grisly revelations date back to June 2005, when a female nurse witnessed Hoegel trying to inject a patient at the Delmenhorst hospital.
The patient survived and Hoegel was arrested and, in June 2008, sentenced to seven and a half years in jail for several cases of attempted murder.
Raid over plot to kill politicians: German police on Monday raided the homes and workplaces of a policeman and another person suspected of planning to capture and kill left-wing politicians because of their views on immigration, authorities said.
The suspects, who feared Germany’s refugee policies would impoverish the country, had begun to stockpile food and ammunition and plan attacks, the federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
“The suspects see the crisis they fear taking hold as an opportunity to capture left-wing political representatives and kill them with their weapons,” the statement said.
The suspects, who had drawn up a list of target names, planned “serious violence threatening to the state”, the prosecutor’s office said.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a weekend newspaper interview she had no regrets about her 2015 decision to leave Germany’s borders open to hundreds of thousands of refugees and added she would not be deterred from campaigning by angry hecklers.
A spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office said neither suspect had been arrested and no arrest warrant had been issued yet.
Pictures on the website of the mass-circulation daily Bild showed black-clad police, some in balaclavas, carrying out searches.
Man admits to selling gun to shooter: A 32-year-old man on Monday confessed to selling the gun and bullets used by a teenager to kill nine people in a shooting spree at a Munich mall last year.
The suspect, Philip K., told the court at the start of his trial in the southern German city that he “would have never sold him the weapon” if he had known that the gunman was planning “such a horrible act”.
In a statement read out by his lawyer, he also expressed his “sincere condolences” to the families of the victims.
The 18-year-old attacker, David Ali Sonboly, killed himself after his murderous rampage at Munich’s Olympia mall in July 2016, using the gun he had bought through the darknet.
Prosecutors argue that the crime would not have been possible had Philip K. not provided the Glock 17 and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, at a price of around 4,500 euros ($5,300).
He was arrested in August 2016 and charged with negligent homicide, illegal arms trafficking and other weapons violations.
As his trial began on Monday, the suspect admitted to the weapons charges and explained that he used the darknet, the hidden part of the internet, to make contact with buyers before meeting them in person to make the transaction.
His trial is set to run until September 19. If convicted, he faces several years in jail.
Police believe Sonboly, who suffered from psychological problems and was bullied at school, had planned his mass shooting for over a year but chose his victims at random.