Ger­man nurse is be­lieved to have killed at least 86

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

BER­LIN — A Ger­man nurse serv­ing a life sen­tence for mur­der­ing two of his pa­tients is be­lieved to have killed at least 86 oth­ers en­trusted to his care, of­fi­cials said this week, in what they de­scribed as an imag­i­na­tion­de­fy­ing se­ries of crimes.

The nurse, iden­ti­fied as Niels Hoegel, was sen­tenced to life in prison in Fe­bru­ary 2015, af­ter a court in the north­ern town of Olden­burg found him guilty of ad­min­is­ter­ing over­doses of heart med­i­ca­tion to some pa­tients in an in­ten­sive care ward in Del­men­horst. He was con­victed of two counts of mur­der, two counts of at­tempted mur­der and caus­ing bod­ily harm to pa­tients and is serv­ing his sen­tence.

Dur­ing his trial, the for­mer nurse con­fessed to in­ten­tion­ally in­duc­ing car­diac crises in 90 of his pa­tients, 30 of whom he said had died. That prompted of­fi­cials to launch an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the deaths of some 130 of Hoegel’s for­mer pa­tients. The re­sults were pre­sented Mon­day in Olden­burg.

At least 84 of the con­victed killer’s for­mer pa­tients were found to have died af­ter suf­fer­ing from in­jec­tions of five dif­fer­ent forms of med­i­ca­tion, Jo­han Kuehme, chief of po­lice in Olden­burg, told re­porters.

Au­thor­i­ties are wait­ing for the re­sults of an­other 41 tox­i­col­ogy re­ports, the re­sults of which could drive the num­ber of con­firmed deaths even higher, he said.

“The re­al­iza­tion of what we were able to learn is hor­ri­fy­ing,” Kuehme told re­porters. “It de­fies any scope of the imag­i­na­tion.”

Hoegel, now 40, told the court at the time that he had en­joyed try­ing to re­vive the pa­tients. But his ef­forts did not al­ways suc­ceed, leav­ing some to be­come his vic­tims.

The spe­cial com­mis­sion, launched in Oc­to­ber 2014, combed through ev­i­dence that in­cluded more than 500 pa­tient files. It based its con­clu­sions in part on tox­i­col­ogy tests on the re­mains of 134 pos­si­ble vic­tims, who were ex­humed to see if they con­tained traces of the chem­i­cals the nurse had con­fessed to us­ing.

It found that Hoegel had ad­min­is­tered lethal in­jec­tions to pa­tients at a hos­pi­tal in Olden­burg, where he worked from 1999 to 2001.

In Oc­to­ber 2016, pros- ecu­tors brought charges against six em­ploy­ees of the hos­pi­tal in Del­men­horst, on sus­pi­cion of neg­li­gent man­slaugh­ter, for fail­ing to take ac­tion de­spite their sus­pi­cion re­gard­ing the nurse’s ac­tions.

A re­lated in­ves­ti­ga­tion into hos­pi­tal per­son­nel in Olden­burg is con­tin­u­ing, but no one has been charged.

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