Niels Hoegel, a 42-year-old former nurse who is considered Germany’s deadliest post-war serial killer, was sentenced to life in prison at a court in the northwest city of Oldenburg.
The health worker previously confessed to killing 100 patients—aged between 34 and 96 years old—at two hospitals in northern Germany between 2000 and 2005.
Hoegel was accused of giving his victims various non-prescribed drugs, in an attempt to show off his resuscitation skills to colleagues and fight off boredom.
In past hearings, Hoegel said he felt euphoric when he managed to bring a patient back to life, and devastated when he failed.
Police suspect the true death toll may be as high as 200, though are unable to be certain as many patients were cremated before autopsies could be performed, reported AFP.
The former nurse is already serving a life sentence for six convictions, including homicide and attempted homicide in 2008 and 2015. Those convictions led authorities to investigate hundreds of deaths and exhume the bodies of former patients in the clinics where he worked.
Hoegel asked his victims’ families for forgiveness on Wednesday for his “horrible acts.”
“I would like to sincerely apologize for everything I did to you over the course of years,” he said during the hearing, AFP reported.
Life term expected for Germany’s worst post-war serial killer.
Former nurse Niels Hoegel is accused of killing 97 patients aged between 34 and 96 by medical injection, gambling with their lives in an attempt to impress his bosseshttps://t.co/RLqMoc53fz pic.twitter.com/grVN0kP011
— AFP news agency (@AFP) June 6, 2019
One of the biggest questions in the case is how Hoegel was able to murder so many people apparently under the watch of hospital staff.
Former colleagues at the Delmenhorst clinic, where he worked, admitted to having had their suspicions about Hoegel, according to AFP. But all the staff from the other hospital in Oldenburg who testified said they were oblivious to the rising death toll.
During sentencing Judge Sebastian Buehrmann criticized what he called staff’s “collective amnesia,” adding that Hoegel’s killing spree was “incomprehensible.”
Niels Hoegel’s killing spree “incomprehensible”
Judge Sebastian Buehrmann on German killer nurse who got life in prison for 85 hospital murders pic.twitter.com/YaDzTBxJeR
— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) June 6, 2019
About 126 relatives of the victims are co-plaintiffs in the trial, which has been running since October 2018.
Already Serving Life in Prison
The German nurse has already spent nearly a decade in prison for other patient deaths.
Högel was first caught in the act in 2005 when another nurse saw him injecting a patient with non-prescription medication at a hospital in Delmenhorst. The patient survived and in 2008, Högel was sentenced to seven and a half years for attempted murder in that case, according to BNO News.
At his second trial in 2014-2015, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on six convictions—two murder charges, three attempted murder charges, and one charge of dangerous bodily assault.
During Högel’s second trial, a court-appointed psychologist said that Högel had told her he had injected 90 patients with heart medication during his stint at Delmenhorst Hospital. Of these, 30 patients died, though he was close to killing the other 60.
Following the admissions, police expanded their investigation. Investigators poured over more than 500 patient files and hundreds of hospital records. They also exhumed some 134 bodies from 67 cemeteries and interrogated Hoegel six times, according to media reports.
NTD News reporter Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this article.