OLDENBURG, Germany — He’d been sitting in his little apartment in northwestern Germany for quite a while bombed out on painkillers, then he went to work at the hospital — injecting a 61-year-old woman who had recently awakened from an artificial coma with an overdose of heart medication.
The woman was on her way to recovering and had recently bought a car. She wasn’t ready to die. Later that night he called her daughter to tell her: “Your mother’s circulation is unstable.” The daughter rushed to the hospital, but by then her mother had passed.
Niels Högel, the nurse, is now suspected of killing more than 200 patients at the hospitals where he worked between the years 1999 and 2005, when he was first arrested for an attempted murder.
News of that first case raised suspicions about others, but investigations were agonizingly slow. There were a succession of trials over the course of 13 years, and in each one he lied, acknowledging some killings and boasting about more. In the most recent courtroom drama, he is accused of murdering 100, and has confessed to all but five of those cases.
Part of Niels Högel wanted credit for saving the people he nearly killed. But it didn’t always work, and he didn’t really care.
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