A German nurse who administered lethal drugs to patients because he liked the thrill of reviving them has been jailed for life after being found guilty of killing 85 of them.
Niels Hoegel, 42, committed the murders between 2000 and 2005 while working at two hospitals in northwestern Germany, making him the country’s most-prolific known serial killer.
Police have identified more than 200 suspicious deaths linked to Hoegel, but were only able to investigate 130 of those because some of the deceased were buried or cremated so long ago.
Hoegel was eventually charged with 100 counts of murder and a jury found him guilty on 85 of those this week, ruling there was not enough evidence to support the remaining 15 claims.
Hoegel’s victims ranged in age between 34 and 96.
During the seven-month trial, Hoegel admitted 43 of the killings, disputed five and said he could not remember the other 52. Pleas are not entered as part of the German court system.
Oldenburg court judge Sebastian Buehrmann sentenced Hoegel to life in prison while noting the ‘particular seriousness of the crimes’ in his verdict.
Hoegel worked at a hospital in the northwestern city of Oldenburg between 1999 and 2002 and another hospital in nearby Delmenhorst from 2003 to 2005.
Hoegel was convicted in 2015 of two murders and two attempted murders and is already currently serving a life sentence.
There are no consecutive sentences in the German system, but the court’s ruling on the seriousness of the crimes all but ensures he will remain incarcerated after the standard 15-year term is up.
During his first trial, Hoegel said he intentionally brought about cardiac crises in some 90 patients in Delmenhorst because he enjoyed the feeling of being able to resuscitate them. He later told investigators that he also killed patients in Oldenburg.
Authorities subsequently investigated hundreds of deaths, exhuming bodies of former patients.
Hoegel testified that he had a ‘protected’ childhood, free of violence. He said his grandmother and his father, who were both nurses, had been his role models for going into the profession.
‘Now I sit here fully convinced that I want to give every relative an answer,’ Hoegel said during the trial. ‘I am really sorry.’
In his closing statement to the court on Wednesday, Hoegel reiterated the apology, expressing shame and remorse, and saying he realized how much pain and suffering he had caused with his ‘terrible deeds.’
‘To each and every one of you I sincerely apologize for all that I have done,’ he said.