Authorities now believe that a male nurse in Germany accused of killing at least 86 patients could have actually murdered more people. The nurse carried out the killings with overdoses of heart medication.
Police Chief Johann Kuehme in the nortwestern city of Oldenburg said many of the deaths could have been prevented if only health authorities acted more quickly on their suspicions.
Niels Hoegel, now 40, was first convicted in 2015 of two murders and two attempted murders at a hospital in Delmenhorst, a northwestern town. He was then sentenced to life in prison. Prosecutors have long been convinced that he killed more people, and put the figure last year to at least 43 casualties.
The said crimes were discovered after Hegel was convicted of attempted murder in another case. Authorities then probed hundreds of deaths, exhuming bodies of former patients inn Delmenhorst and nearby Oldenburg.
Kuehme announced on Monday that authorities have unearthed evidence of 84 killings in addition to the ones Hoegel was already convicted. Kuehme added that the number of actual killings is likely higher because some possible victims were cremated, making it impossible to gather further evidence on them.
Kuehme is overwhelmed with the scale of the crimes. He shared to reporters that: “Eighty-four killings leave us speechless. And as if all that were not enough, we must realize that the real dimension of the killings f Niels Hoegel is likely many times worse.”
Kuehme said their investigations of the actual number of deaths caused by Hoegel are hampered by the fact that many cases go back many years and families struggle with the exact details of their loved ones’ deaths. The police chief squarely puts the blame on local health authorities for being slow to act.
Authorities are already pursuing criminal cases against former staff at the two facilities. Hoegel worked at the Oldenburg hospital from 1999 to 2002 and in Delmenhorst from 2003 to 2005.
During his trial, Hoegel admitted his dastardly act of intentionally bringing about cardiac crises in some 90 cases in Delmenhorst because he enjoyed the feeling of being able to resuscitate them. He also later confessed to killing patients in Oldenburg as well.
Prosecutors are likely to try Hoegel on at least some of the additional murders but Germany’s judicial system does not allow for consecutive sentences, so Hoegel’s life term may not be affected even of future convictions.