Niels Högel

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Niels Högel
Niels Högel

(1976-12-30) 30 December 1976 (age 42)
Criminal penaltyLife imprisonment
Victims100 confirmed and admitted[1]
Span of crimes
State(s)Lower Saxony

Niels Högel (born 30 December 1976)[2] is a German serial killer and former nurse who was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of six patients. Högel has confessed to killing 30 patients but in 2017 a police investigation concluded that he was responsible for at least 90 deaths.[3] In November 2017, German prosecutors said that the number of victims was at least 106,[4] with Högel admitting, in October 2018, to murdering 100 patients.[1] By May 2019, he was believed to be the most prolific serial killer in peacetime Germany, with up to 300 victims over fifteen years.[5]


Neils Högel was raised in the coastal town of Wilhelmshaven, Lower Saxony in northern Germany, the son of a man who was also a nurse. He has an older sister.[5] According to Högel, he had a sheltered or "protected" childhood and was not exposed to violence at home.[6] Högel worked as a nurse at clinics in Oldenburg and Delmenhorst during the years of 1999–2002 and 2003–2005, respectively.

2005 arrest and conviction[edit]

Högel was first arrested in 2005 after he was caught injecting a patient with ajmaline.[7] He was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to seven and a half years in prison in 2008.[8]

2015 trial and confession[edit]

As a result of media coverage of Högel's 2008 trial, a woman whose mother died at a clinic where Högel worked became suspicious and told police that her mother could have fallen victim to him. This led to a new investigation, during which Högel admitted to administering 90 unauthorized injections, as a result of which 30 patients died and 60 others were successfully resuscitated. He expressed regret and denied killing any other patients. Högel was convicted of two murders and two attempted murders and sentenced to life imprisonment.[9]

Prosecutors said Högel acted out of boredom and the desire to show off his resuscitation skills.[10]

Subsequent investigation[edit]

Amidst mounting suspicion that Högel was a serial killer, police launched a major investigation in October 2014, after which 200 suspicious deaths were identified. More than 130 bodies in Germany, Poland and Turkey were exhumed.[9] Police announced on 28 August 2017 that they had concluded that Högel was responsible for the deaths of at least 90 patients, including 6 for which he had already been convicted. Högel admitted to an undisclosed number of deaths but in most cases was unable to remember specific details, although he did not deny the possibility that he was responsible.[11] In November 2017, the total number of victims attributed to Högel was revised up to 106, with some suspicious deaths still under investigation. In January 2018, German prosecutors charged Högel with the murder of 97 patients and announced their intention to file charges against other hospital staff who failed to act.[12] Prosecutors claimed that Högel was motivated to impress colleagues by healing the patients who he had attacked.[1]

On 28 August 2017, police said that Högel had used five different drugs, including ajmaline, sotalol, lidocaine, amiodarone and calcium chloride. Overdoses can lead to life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia and a drop in blood pressure, causing a rapid decline in a patient who is already ill.[7]

2019 trial and life sentence[edit]

On 6 June 2019, the court in Oldenburg sentenced Högel to life imprisonment noting "severe gravity of guilt", which precludes a chance of early release after serving 15 years, for the murder of more than 85 people.[13][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Niels Högel: German ex-nurse admits killing 100 patients". BBC News. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  2. ^ "German nurse given second life sentence for murder of 85 patients". The Guardian. 6 June 2019.
  3. ^ "German nurse may have murdered at least 90 patients". CNN. 28 August 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  4. ^ "German nurse who killed 'for thrill' suspected of 100 murders". BNO News. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  5. ^ a b Eddy, Melissa (10 May 2019). "Hundreds of Bodies, One Nurse: German Serial Killer Leaves as Many Questions as Victims". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  6. ^ Rising, David (6 June 2019). "85 patient murders: Germany's worst serial killer, nurse Niels Hoegel, gets life sentence". USA Today. Associated Press. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  7. ^ a b Oltermann, Philip (28 August 2017). "German nurse suspected of murdering at least 90 patients". the Guardian. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  8. ^ "German nurse apologises for killing more than 30 patients in 'lethal game'". The Guardian. 20 February 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  9. ^ a b "German nurse suspected of murdering at least 90 patients". The Guardian. 28 August 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  10. ^ "Nurse 'killed patients because he was bored'". The Local. 12 September 2014. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  11. ^ "Police press release on investigation (German)". German police. 28 August 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 January 2018. Retrieved 22 January 2018.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "German killer nurse sentenced to life for murdering patients". DW. 6 June 2019.
  14. ^ "Niels Högel: German ex-nurse convicted of killing 85 patients". BBC News. Retrieved 6 June 2019.