• Follow us

Health

Hundreds of Bodies, One Nurse: German Serial Killer Leaves as Many Questions as Victims

OLDENBURG, Germany — The new nurse arrived at the intensive-care unit of Delmenhorst hospital with a solid letter of reference, describing him as someone who worked “independently and conscientiously.” In a crisis, it said, he reacted “with consideration” and was “technically correct.”

It gave no indication that officials at his former hospital in Oldenburg, Germany, had grown deeply suspicious about the number of deaths while the nurse, Niels Högel, was on duty. Or that they had barred him from contact with patients and effectively pushed him out.

Before long, similar suspicions arose at Delmenhorst. Within four months, a patient, Brigitte A., died under his care. Others, Hans S., Christoph K. and Josef Z., followed. All were identified with only a last initial under German privacy laws.

Today, Mr. Högel, 42, is considered the most prolific serial killer in the history of peacetime Germany, and perhaps in the world. Officials suspect that as many as 300 patients may have died by his hand over five years starting in 2000.

Still, it took more than a decade for a full investigation by the authorities, who exhumed over 130 bodies in Germany, Poland and Turkey as they struggled to define the scope of his crimes. Mr. Högel has admitted to killing 43 people, has not ruled out killing 52 others and denied killing five.

The number of killings and the amount of time it took for suspicions surrounding his actions to come to light have raised uncomfortable questions for Germany, including whether the same deference to hierarchy and predilection for procedure that once facilitated Nazi-era crimes allowed Mr. Högel to kill uninterrupted for so long.

Denmark

50 miles

North Sea

Germany

Hamburg

Oldenburg

Bremen

Netherlands

Delmenhorst

By The New York Times

“If it is possible that in Germany more than 300 deaths over 15 years can be swept under the carpet, what else is possible?” said Christian Marbach, whose grandfather was a victim of Mr. Högel. “What does it take for people in Germany to stand up and pay attention?”

Mr. Marbach now speaks at nursing schools about the moral questions raised by Mr. Högel’s case.

According to Frank Lauxtermann, the only former colleague who testified openly about working alongside Mr. Högel, “A culture of looking away and keeping your head down” ultimately shielded the suspect.

Mr. Högel is serving a life sentence for murdering two patients and playing a role in the killing of four others. The current trial is his third since 2006.

This time, he faces charges of killing 100 more patients — 36 at the main clinic in Oldenburg, a tidy city that prides itself on its university and 17th-century palace, and 64 others after he transferred to Delmenhorst, a suburb of Bremen, about 20 miles away.

ImageMr. Högel arriving at a court hearing in Oldenburg last year. So far, he has confessed to killing 43 patients. But the authorities believe it could be more than 300.CreditMohssen Assanimoghaddam/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesImageAfter doctors and nurses became suspicious of him, Mr. Högel transferred to the hospital in Delmenhorst. He is accused of killing more patients there.CreditNanna Heitmann for The New York Times

The presiding judge, Sebastian Bührmann, has ordered eight of Mr. Högel’s former colleagues to be investigated on perjury because of suspicion that they lied to the court or withheld evidence in the current trial to cover up lapses.

Revelations of apparent negligence by the hospital authorities have already led to other criminal investigations. Two doctors and two head nurses from the Delmenhorst hospital were charged with manslaughter. Mr. Högel is expected to testify at their trial after the court reaches a verdict in his case, expected in June.

Former colleagues from Mr. Högel’s early days as a nurse said he had quickly made a name for himself as someone who could handle the pressure of life-or-death situations.

In reality, prosecutors say, he created situations in which life and death rested in his own hands.

Image“If it is possible that in Germany more than 300 deaths over 15 years can be swept under the carpet, what else is possible?” said Christian Marbach, whose grandfather was a victim of Mr. Högel.CreditNanna Heitmann for The New York TimesImageThe house where Mr. Högel lived when he worked at the Delmenhorst hospital. Mr. Högel, who is serving a life sentence in prison, no longer lives there.CreditNanna Heitmann for The New York Times

He administered overdoses of drugs that caused cardiac arrest so that he could rush back and try to revive patients heroically. His colleagues called him “Resuscitation Rambo” and rewarded his skill with a necklace made of injection tubes, which he wore with pride.

Of 411 deaths at the Delmenhorst hospital during the three years he worked there, 321 occurred during or just after his shifts, records show. The authorities do not know how many patients he may have killed.

The cases of only those victims who could be exhumed and autopsied for traces of medications used to treat irregular heart rhythms but that can be fatal in high doses were brought before the court.

Dr. Karl-Heinz Beine, a leading German neurologist and head doctor of psychiatry at St. Marien Hospital in Hamm, said the nurse appeared to be driven by narcissism and a need to fill a deep lack of self-worth.

A physician in England, Harold Shipman, who was convicted in 2000 of killing 15 patients by lethal injection, was a similar case. A government inquiry concluded that he had killed at least 215 people. He took his own life in 2004.

“Niels Högel is a member of this extreme minority,” said Dr. Beine, who has researched serial killers in the medical profession since 1989. He said that what struck him about Mr. Högel’s testimony was his lack of empathy, even when speaking to victims’ families.

ImageFrank Lauxtermann, a former colleague of Mr. Högel’s, was the first nurse to break the silence.CreditNanna Heitmann for The New York TimesImageThe hospital in Oldenburg where Mr. Högel worked as a nurse. Eight doctors or nurses face charges of perjury for allegedly covering up the incompetence of a system that allowed Mr. Högel to be shuffled between hospitals.CreditNanna Heitmann for The New York Times

For the first time starting last year, Mr. Högel, who sat through previous trials silent and sullen, testified to the court. Often, he recalled remarkable details surrounding the deaths. For others, he mechanically offered the same, almost cynical, answer: “I have no memory, but I can’t rule out a manipulation.”

Five times, he denied killing a patient.

No pleas are entered in the German court, but two days into his latest trial Mr. Högel told the court that he felt “shame” when reading over the medical records of the patients, ages 34 to 96.

“Every single case, even just reading them,” he said, “I am endlessly sorry.”

The apology only raised more questions about whether the words could be believed.

“I personally am convinced that the defendant continues to live out his narcissism today,” testified Arne Schmidt, who is now the police chief in Cuxhaven and led a special investigation from 2014 to 2017 into the killings for the Oldenburg police.

Image“I personally am convinced that the defendant continues to live out his narcissism today,” Arne Schmidt, who led the Oldenburg police investigation into the killings, testified.CreditNanna Heitmann for The New York Times

Only when presented with enough evidence would Mr. Högel confess, Mr. Schmidt said, adding that the nurse had reveled in playing God.

Mr. Högel grew up in Wilhelmshaven, in northern Germany, with both parents and an older sister. His father was a nurse, and he decided early in life to follow in his footsteps.

At some point, his colleagues noticed that patients suddenly needed to be resuscitated when Mr. Högel was on duty. People die in the intensive-care wards, former nurses told the court, but not so many, so swiftly.

“In the beginning, you just think it is fate,” a former Delmenhorst colleague, identified only as Susanna K., testified. “But at some point you grow distrustful.”

She said Mr. Högel’s colleagues in Oldenburg had talked about him, but did not go to their superiors or lodge a complaint out of fear of being reprimanded or because they didn’t see it as their business in a country where citizens closely guard their privacy.

When another nurse in Delmenhorst told her superior she was suspicious of Mr. Högel, no action was taken and she never followed up.

Dr. Beine said he hoped the trial would raise awareness of the failure to call out suspicions and break through the hierarchical structures that govern hospitals and other large bureaucracies in Germany.

He cited a Prussian slogan adopted throughout the country’s bureaucracies, “Reporting Sets You Free” — eerily similar to the Nazi slogan “Work Sets You Free” — that means it is enough to report a suspected wrong without taking further action to ensure that it stops.

“As a health care worker, you have to know that your responsibility is for your patients, not the hospital’s image,” he said.

It was not until June 2005 that Renate T., a fellow nurse in Delmenhorst, took further action after discovering Mr. Högel standing over a lung cancer patient, Dieter Maass. His life support system had been switched off, and in the trash lay four empty vials of medication not prescribed for him. She quickly took a blood sample and sent it for tests.

The next day, the patient was dead.

When the test results showed a dangerously high dose of heart medication, the doctor and nurse in charge met to discuss the situation. But they let Mr. Högel finish his shift.

In those hours, Renate Röper, 67, became his final victim.

Image“Until this happened, I saw doctors as people who did the right thing,” said Mariya Tüter whose husband, Adnan Tüter, died in 2004 in Delmenhorst hospital.CreditNanna Heitmann for The New York TimesImage“I finally want justice to be served,” Mrs. Tüter said.CreditNanna Heitmann for The New York Times

“The course of events that took place on June 24 are symbolic of the failure of those responsible for their completely erroneous assessment of actual facts and the tragic results that ensued for the patients,” Mr. Schmidt said, announcing the results of his investigation in 2017.

That investigation came about only after years of pressure by family members, and led to the current trial.

Two former prosecutors from Oldenburg were investigated for failing to sufficiently investigate Mr. Högel in 2005, but neither faced charges. One is now a judge in Oldenburg.

Judge Bührmann opened the current trial with a moment of silence to honor the victims. At times, the proceedings have seemed more like a truth commission than a criminal trial.

“The purpose of this trial is to provide answers for the family members whose loved ones died, to help them to understand how and why,” Judge Bührmann told a witness.

But Mariya Tüter, 47, expects more. Three years ago, the police told her they suspected that her husband, Adnan, might have been murdered by Mr. Högel. Since then, she has struggled with depression and, at times, even to drive to the supermarket.

“Until this happened, I saw doctors as people who did the right thing; they were there to be trusted,” she said. “But in this case, they swept everything under the carpet. I finally want justice to be served.”

ImageThe prison in Oldenburg where Mr. Högel is serving a life sentence.CreditNanna Heitmann for The New York TimesRead More



Leave A Comment

More News

ABC News: Health

Across US, activists protest new wave of abortion New! 2019-05-21 17:15:24Abortion rights supporters are holding rallies at the U.S. Supreme Court, statehouses and other sites across the nation to oppose the wave of tough ab

States sue over rule allowing clinicians to refuse New! 2019-05-21 17:10:13Nearly two dozen states and municipalities are suing the federal government to stop a new rule letting health care providers object to services that c

Vermont attorney general sues owners of opioid manufacturer New! 2019-05-21 16:57:42Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan says he's filed suit against eight members of the family that owns the drug company that manufactures OxyContin

Oregon hunts for bodies at ex-asylum seen in New! 2019-05-21 16:41:26Oregon will use ground-penetrating radar to search for bodies buried on a campus of the former psychiatric hospital where the movie "One Flew Over th

At abortion clinics, new laws sow confusion, uncertainty New! 2019-05-21 15:55:58Abortion providers say they are reassuring confused patients that restrictive abortion laws passed by a number of states have yet to take effect

Woman who had hot wax dropped in her New! 2019-05-21 15:54:15A Connecticut woman who got hot wax dropped in her eye at beauty spa has settled a lawsuit against the now-closed business for $400,000

Judge: Mississippi 6-week abortion ban 'smacks of defiance' New! 2019-05-21 14:38:16A federal judge who struck down Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban last year says the state's lawmakers defied his ruling by passing a new law that

The Latest: Judge questions Mississippi 6-week abortion ban New! 2019-05-21 13:07:14A federal judge who struck down Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban last year is sharply questioning a new state law that bans abortions even earlier

Correction: WHO Travel story New! 2019-05-21 12:23:57Correction: WHO Travel story

Frenchman in vegetative state kept alive after appeal 2019-05-21 11:17:25A last-ditch appeal to the United Nations has forced French doctors to resume life support for a man who has been in a vegetative state for years and

Cholesterol improves in US kids despite high obesity 2019-05-21 11:12:28Cholesterol levels in children and teens improve in the latest analysis of U.S. health surveys

California eyes health care for immigrants in US 2019-05-21 01:50:18California lawmakers are eyeing proposals that would make the state the first in the nation to offer government-funded health care to adult immigrants

NYT > Health

Why Tuesday’s City Primary Could Mean the End 2019-05-20 15:24:24The tax isn’t on the ballot, but the beverage industry has spent more than $600,000 to back City Council and mayoral candidates who want to stri

Why High-Class People Get Away With Incompetence 2019-05-20 15:15:05People who came from higher social classes were more likely to have an inflated sense of their skills, a new study found. This overconfidence was inte

Phys Ed: To Move Is to Thrive. It’s 2019-05-20 14:22:23A need and desire to be in motion may have been bred into our DNA before we even became humans.

A.I. Took a Test to Detect Lung Cancer. 2019-05-20 11:29:13Artificial intelligence may help doctors make more accurate readings of CT scans used to screen for lung cancer.

Personal Health: Millions Take Gabapentin for Pain. But 2019-05-20 10:45:52“There is very little data to justify how these drugs are being used and why they should be in the top 10 in sales,” a researcher said.

Turmeric Takes a Star Turn in Cocktails 2019-05-20 10:32:49The spice widely praised as a curative superfood is showing up in a different kind of medication.

French Patient in Right-to-Die Dispute Is Taken Off 2019-05-20 07:32:20Vincent Lambert was left in a vegetative state after a 2008 car accident. His family has been split over whether to let doctors stop artificially feed

The Checkup: Is ‘Digital Addiction’ a Real Threat 2019-05-20 05:00:03Think of screens as something to handle in moderation, like food, rather than something without any healthy place in our lives, like heroin, experts

The New Health Care: Is Our Health Care 2019-05-20 05:00:02Putting a price on longevity or well-being is tricky, but not impossible.

Deadly Germs, Lost Cures: Citrus Farmers Facing Deadly 2019-05-19 20:29:15In its decision to approve two drugs for orange and grapefruit trees, the E.P.A. largely ignored objections from the C.D.C. and the F.D.A., which fear

What Does It Really Mean to Be 6 2019-05-19 11:07:13So-called ‘heartbeat’ legislation restricting abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy has started a conversation about when most wom

Maternity Leave for Sponsored Runners 2019-05-18 08:00:01A video about female runners losing their pay and health insurance if they are pregnant sends ripples through the running world.

Scientific American: Health

The Polycystic Sisterhood 2019-05-21 07:00:00Infertility is on the rise, but one major cause—polycystic ovarian syndrome—gets too little attention -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.c

Cannabis Compound Eases Anxiety and Cravings of Heroin 2019-05-21 06:45:00Cannabidiol reduces levels of stress hormone and blunts urge to use opioids -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

I Hate the Month of May 2019-05-20 14:00:00It will forever remind me that ALS took my mom away -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

Health Researchers Must Work <em>with</em> Communities, Not <em>on</em> 2019-05-20 12:00:00So how should they go about it? -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

The Next Wave of Immuno-Oncology 2019-05-20 07:00:00A cutting-edge therapy currently used for blood cancers is now being adapted to fight solid tumors -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

The Ethical Quandary in Health Care Reform 2019-05-17 07:00:00Freedom of choice is an American value—but people without resources don’t have much of a choice -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

Smartphone App Screens Kids for Ear Problems 2019-05-16 15:45:00Parents can use a digital tool at home to detect fluid behind the eardrum -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

Can You Prevent Pregnancy with the Pullout Method? 2019-05-16 13:30:00An investigation into one of the biggest misconceptions in male fertility -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

Autism May Be Diagnosed by Age Two 2019-05-16 12:30:00New study suggests that early screening may benefit some children -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

Could a Single Live Vaccine Protect against a 2019-05-16 08:00:00A controversial theory holds that one immunization, given properly, can protect against many diseases besides its target -- Read more on ScientificAme

Brain-Controlled Hearing Aids Could Cut through Crowd Noise 2019-05-15 14:30:00A prototype detects whom you are listening to and amplifies only that speaker’s voice; a potential solution to the “cocktail party problem

Can Knowing Your Genetic Risk Change Your Physiology? 2019-05-15 10:30:00We now have unprecedented amounts of information on our own genetics, thanks to at-home DNA testing kits. But what does all of this information do to

MedicineNet Daily News

The Top 5 Veggies to Add to Your 2019-05-21 03:00:00Title: The Top 5 Veggies to Add to Your DietCategory: Health NewsCreated: 5/20/2019 12:00:00 AMLast Editorial Review: 5/20/2019 12:00:00 AM

Suicides Increase Among U.S. Kids, But More in 2019-05-21 03:00:00Title: Suicides Increase Among U.S. Kids, But More in Girls Than BoysCategory: Health NewsCreated: 5/17/2019 12:00:00 AMLast Editorial Review: 5/20/20

Crash Risk Much Higher for Teen Drivers With 2019-05-21 03:00:00Title: Crash Risk Much Higher for Teen Drivers With ADHDCategory: Health NewsCreated: 5/20/2019 12:00:00 AMLast Editorial Review: 5/20/2019 12:00:00 A

When E-Cig Makers Offer Promotional Items, More Teens 2019-05-21 03:00:00Title: When E-Cig Makers Offer Promotional Items, More Teens Likely to VapeCategory: Health NewsCreated: 5/17/2019 12:00:00 AMLast Editorial Review: 5

Health Tip: Safely Storing Guns 2019-05-21 03:00:00Title: Health Tip: Safely Storing GunsCategory: Health NewsCreated: 5/20/2019 12:00:00 AMLast Editorial Review: 5/20/2019 12:00:00 AM

Undeclared Soy in Some Salads, Wraps at Whole 2019-05-21 03:00:00Title: Undeclared Soy in Some Salads, Wraps at Whole Foods MarketsCategory: Health NewsCreated: 5/17/2019 12:00:00 AMLast Editorial Review: 5/20/2019

1 in 5 Kids Don't Strap on Helmets 2019-05-21 03:00:00Title: 1 in 5 Kids Don't Strap on Helmets Before BikingCategory: Health NewsCreated: 5/20/2019 12:00:00 AMLast Editorial Review: 5/20/2019 12:00:00 A

AHA News: Drummer's Death Inspires Grief-Stricken Bandmates to 2019-05-21 03:00:00Title: AHA News: Drummer's Death Inspires Grief-Stricken Bandmates to Rethink Rock 'n' Roll LifestyleCategory: Health NewsCreated: 5/17/2019 12:00:

Sugary Drinks and Fruit Juice May Increase Risk 2019-05-21 03:00:00Title: Sugary Drinks and Fruit Juice May Increase Risk of Early DeathCategory: Health NewsCreated: 5/17/2019 12:00:00 AMLast Editorial Review: 5/20/20

For Women With HIV, Daily Life Can Impede 2019-05-21 03:00:00Title: For Women With HIV, Daily Life Can Impede Fight Against VirusCategory: Health NewsCreated: 5/17/2019 12:00:00 AMLast Editorial Review: 5/20/201

Health Tip: Bed Bug Protection 2019-05-21 03:00:00Title: Health Tip: Bed Bug ProtectionCategory: Health NewsCreated: 5/20/2019 12:00:00 AMLast Editorial Review: 5/20/2019 12:00:00 AM

Love the Smell of a Cup o' Joe? 2019-05-21 03:00:00Title: Love the Smell of a Cup o' Joe? Here's What That Reveals About YouCategory: Health NewsCreated: 5/17/2019 12:00:00 AMLast Editorial Review: 5

FOX News

Midwife discovers that she delivered her assistant 19 2019-05-20 13:00:39A midwife in training made a shocking discovery after helping deliver her first baby: her instructor had delivered her 19 years earlier.

'Game of Thrones' counseling available for those mourning 2019-05-20 12:07:53For many “Game of Thrones” super fans, last night’s series finale felt more like losing a loved one than the end of a television sho

Vienna Beef recalls more than 2,000 pounds of 2019-05-20 08:51:07The “skinless beef frankfurters” were shipped to Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, according to a USDA product recall notice.

Dallas teen beats stage 4 cancer to graduate 2019-05-19 19:40:57Joshua Suarez beat stage four testicular cancer, and now is ready to graduate high school in Texas.

6 everyday products that could cause you to 2019-05-19 06:00:56But poppy seeds aren’t the only ingredient that could show up on a toxicology screen.

Chef temporarily lost hearing after eating spicy meal: 2019-05-19 05:00:25If eating one of the hottest chili peppers sounds daunting, imagine crushing one hundred of them into a spaghetti dish and calling it a meal.

Processed foods may be addictive, 'landmark' study claims 2019-05-18 15:56:02Anyone who’s ever pulled open a bag of potato chips knows how hard it can be to set it aside unfinished.

Sleep paralysis: Causes, symptoms and treatment 2019-05-18 05:00:37People may wake in the middle of the night and find themselves unable to move or utter a sound.

Teen diagnosed with early menopause says she won't 2019-05-17 15:32:12A teenager going through early menopause at age 15 is finding support with a group of girls who were diagnosed with similar conditions.

Mom contracts sepsis from medical swab left inside 2019-05-17 15:28:05Paige Balding, 20, was diagnosed with sepsis after she gave birth to her son Hunter Jae July last year.

Texas woman taken off life support against family's 2019-05-17 12:55:59A Texas woman was taken off life-support Monday, against her family's wishes, after the hospital invoked a law allowing them to deny further car

Exclusive: U.S. drug czar to travel to China 2019-05-17 11:19:00U.S. drug czar James Carroll says he will be traveling to China by year's end to inspect their efforts to crack down on fentanyl manufacturers and pr


Disclaimer and Notice:WorldProNews.com is not responsible of these news or any information published on this website.