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
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