Two years ago, nurse Niels Hoegel who worked at a medical clinic in the city of Delmenhorst, Germany, was convicted of murdering two patients by administering lethal injections of a heart-stopping drug. He was sentenced to life in prison for the horrifying crimes, but now prosecutors say that the horror may be far greater than previously imagined.
Hoegel, they say, may actually be Germany’s worst mass killer in the 76 years since World War II ended, with at least 90 victims, all of them helpless patients who merely went to the clinic for medical help. Instead, prosecutors say, Hoegel killed them for no reason other than the thrill of it.
While the authorities estimate Hoegel’s total body count at a minimum of 84, but likely 90 or higher, they also say that the true total may never be known. Many of the patients slain by the now-40-year-old nurse were cremated because they were thought to have died of natural causes at the time, destroying any possible evidence linking them to Hoegel’s killing spree.
However, investigators have exhumed more than 130 bodies from their graves to test for any trace of the deadly drug that Hoegel used to stop his victims’ hearts, according to his confessions.
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Why did Hoegel kill his patients? According to Hoegel’s own testimony, the reason was as chilling as it was simple. He killed out of “boredom.” The nurse said that after injecting patients with a drug that would cause their hearts to stop beating, he would then attempt to revive them, feeling “euphoric” when he was able to save a patient. He also said that he was devastated when his attempts at revival failed, and a patient died.
But his supposed devastation did not stop him from continuing to administer the lethal injections to his own patients. How many of his victims Hoegel was actually able to revive remains uncertain.
The following video report courtesy of NBC News contains further details on the shocking mass murder case.
According to confessions by the convicted killer nurse, Hoegel murdered patients not only at the Delmenhorst clinic, which is located in the northwestern German state of Lower Saxony, but also in the nearby city of Oldenburg, where he was employed as a nurse from 1999 to 2002, when he transferred to the Delmenhorst facility where he worked until 2005.
His tenure there ended when a fellow nurse witnessed Hoegel injecting a patient with the lethal drug. That particular victim survived, and Hoegel was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to seven-and-a-half years behind bars.
Police believe that Hoegel’s killing spree began sometime shortly after he first started work at the Oldenburg facility in 1999 and continued until he was finally caught six years later. He was convicted in 2015 of two murders and given a life sentence. But authorities say they have believed from Day One that his victims numbered in the dozens.
Lead investigator Arne Schmidt told a press conference last week that Hoegel’s mass murder is “unique in the history of the German republic.” He added that the case had left him “speechless.”
Perhaps the most heartbreaking and tragic aspect of the horrifying killer nurse case, police say, is that the murders — at least many of them — could have been prevented.
“The killings could have been prevented if the people responsible at the time — and I stress at the time — particularly at the Oldenburg clinic but also later on in Delmenhorst hadn’t hesitated to alert authorities, for example the state prosecution,” said Oldenburg Police Chief Johann Kuehme, in a CNN report.
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