For­mer nurse serv­ing life for mur­der­ing pa­tients ad­mits to killing an­other 100

▶ Ger­man dis­pensed drugs to cause heart at­tacks ‘out of bore­dom’ and in bid to show his skill

The National - News - - NEWS WORLD - THE NA­TIONAL

For­mer nurse Niels Hoegel was al­ready serv­ing a life sen­tence for mur­der, but yes­ter­day he ap­peared in court plead­ing guilty to killing an­other 100 peo­ple.

Be­tween 1999 and 2005, Hoegel was work­ing at Olden­burg and Del­men­horst hos­pi­tals in north-western Ger­many and was sen­tenced in 2015 for killing peo­ple in his care.

Dur­ing that trial, he said he de­lib­er­ately brought on car­diac ar­rests in about 90 pa­tients in Del­men­horst be­cause he en­joyed the feel­ing of be­ing able to re­sus­ci­tate them, but he rarely man­aged to.

He later told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that he also killed pa­tients in Olden­burg. But au­thor­i­ties be­lieved that there might have been more than 100 vic­tims.

As the pro­ceed­ings opened in the north­ern city of Olden­burg, pre­sid­ing judge Se­bas­tian Buehrmann asked whether the charges against him were ac­cu­rate. Hoegel, 41, replied “yes”.

“What I have ad­mit­ted took place,” he told the court­room crowded with griev­ing rel­a­tives.

Born De­cem­ber 30, 1976, in the North Sea town of Wil­helmshaven, Hoegel be­came a nurse, like his fa­ther, at the age of 19. In 1999 he took a job at the main hospi­tal in Olden­burg and trans­ferred to a fa­cil­ity in neigh­bour­ing Del­men­horst in 2003.

For­mer col­leagues de­scribed him as dili­gent and like­able but be­gan to no­tice a trou­bling num­ber of deaths in the in­ten­sive care unit on his watch.

Be­tween 2000 and 2005, he in­jected an over­dose of med­i­ca­tion in dozens of ail­ing pa­tients so he could res­cue them from the brink of death, but in 2005 was caught in the act.

Psy­chi­a­trists who have eval­u­ated Hoegel, the fa­ther of an ado­les­cent daugh­ter, say he has a se­vere nar­cis­sis­tic dis­or­der. He will face trial over 100 deaths but in­ves­ti­ga­tors say the toll could be more than 200.

The true num­ber may never be known be­cause sev­eral pre­sumed vic­tims’ bod­ies were cre­mated be­fore post-mortem ex­am­i­na­tions could be done.

Hoegel wanted to show off his tal­ents to his col­leagues, and also killed his pa­tients out of bore­dom, he has tes­ti­fied.

“I can­not imag­ine that he re­mem­bers each of the peo­ple he killed,” said Pe­tra Klein, who runs the crime vic­tims’ sup­port group Weisser Ring in Olden­burg. “It’s all so treach­er­ous.”

The hospi­tal in Olden­burg dis­missed Hoegel in late 2002 due to mount­ing sus­pi­cions about the deaths of pa­tients.

But it failed to open an in­ves­ti­ga­tion and even of­fered him a glow­ing ref­er­ence, pos­si­bly to en­sure his quick depar­ture.

“With­out the mis­takes of some peo­ple in Olden­burg, this se­ries of mur­ders by Niels Hoegel could have been stopped,” said Chris­tian Mar­bach, whose grand­fa­ther was one of the vic­tims in Del­men­horst.

For­mer col­leagues at the two clin­ics will be asked to tes­tify in the lat­est trial, as will Hoegel.

Mr Mar­bach hopes he will re­veal ev­ery­thing from the dock.

A po­lice file based on sta­tis­tics from the Del­men­horst hospi­tal shows that be­tween 2003 and 2004 the death rate was twice that of pre­vi­ous years.

Dur­ing the same pe­riod, the use of med­i­ca­tion for car­diac ail­ments soared. And in most cases when a pa­tient died, Niels Hoegel was on duty.

The fig­ures paint a damn­ing pic­ture but pros­e­cu­tors only took ac­tion in 2008, or­der­ing the ex­huma­tion of eight bod­ies un­der pressure from vic­tims’ rel­a­tives.

Niels Hoegel ar­rives for the start of his trial in a court­room in Olden­burg, Ger­many, yes­ter­day

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