German nurse suspected of hundreds of deaths
Niels Högel (pictured), 42, who was sentenced to life in prison, brought about cardiac arrests in patients by injecting them with overdoses of heart medication and other drugs.
Sometimes he succeeded in resuscitating patients but in at least 87 cases they died, making him post-war Germany’s most prolific convicted serial killer.
The court in northwestern Germany’s city of Oldenburg found Högel guilty of murdering 85 patients as he had earlier been convicted of two other killings in 2008 and 2015.
“Your guilt is incomprehensible,” judge Sebastian Buerhmann said. “Only four people worldwide have been found guilty of more murders. I felt like an accountant of death. The scale of your crimes is so vast that the human mind boggles at their sheer number.”
Högel asked his victims’ families for forgiveness for his “horrible acts”.
“I would like to sincerely apologise for everything I did to you over the course of years,” he told the court.
The killings began in 2000 when the newly qualified nurse started working in an intensive cardiac care unit at Oldenburg hospital near Bremen. Högel said he wanted to engineer situations in which he could demonstrate his ability to bring patients back from the brink of death. It is thought that he murdered 30 people over three years by giving them drugs to provoke heart attacks and then failing to resuscitate them. Colleagues nicknamed him “Death Högel” but he carried on practising at Oldenburg for two more years before moving to a clinic in nearby Delmenhorst with a favourable reference. The nurse murdered a patient within a week of starting in Delmenhorst.
Judge Buehrmann criticised what he called the staff’s “collective amnesia”, adding that Högel’s killing spree was “incomprehensible”.
One witness said Högel “stopped counting” after his 50th murder.
Prosecutors suspect the nurse was responsible for up to 332 deaths in total.
Over three years when Högel worked at Delmenhorst, 321 of 411 deaths occurred during his shifts, and its consumption of one heart drug increased seven times. He was caught by another nurse as he injected a fatal dose to a 63-year-old, who died hours later.
Former colleagues at the Delmenhorst clinic admitted to having had their suspicions about the nurse. Oldenburg staff, however, testified that they were oblivious to the rising death toll at the clinic.
Niels Högel. Picture credit: YouTube