German nurse may have murdered at least 90 patients

A German male nurse jailed for life two years ago for killing two patients with lethal drug overdoses is now a suspect in at least 84 more murders, police said Monday. Though the patient survived, Hoegel was arrested in June 2008 and sentenced to seven and a half years in jail for several cases of attempted murder. But prosecutors have long said they believe he killed more people, past year putting the figure at 43 at least.

According to investigators, however, the real number of victims is likely to be many times higher, but it cannot be proven because some of the deceased were cremated.

Numerous killings could have been prevented if local health authorities had acted on their suspicions at the time, Mr Kühme said. Authorities subsequently investigated hundreds of deaths and exhumed former patients in Delmenhorst and Oldenburg.

"Eighty-four killings. leave us speechless", Kuehme said. "And as if all that were not enough, we must realise that the real dimension of the killings by Niels H is likely many times worse".

Officials are pursuing criminal charges against former staff members of both clinics.

He faulted local health authorities for being slow to act. He worked at a clinic in Delmenhorst, an urban district in Lower Saxony, at the time, ITV reported.

The experts were left shocked when they were investigating the high death toll recorded at two hospitals where Hoegel had worked between 1999 and 2005.

Kuehme said other medical workers at Oldenburg were aware of an elevated number of resuscitations, and initial indications of possible wrongdoing by the nurse in Delmenhorst emerged as early as April 2003.

The investigation that led to the convictions also caused prosecutors to believe the nurse had killed many more patients.

The victims' names have not been released.

  • Tracy Klein