30 December 1976
|Criminal penalty||Life imprisonment|
|Victims||100 confirmed and admitted|
Span of crimes
Niels Högel (born 30 December 1976) 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. In November 2017, German prosecutors said that the number of victims was at least 106, with Högel admitting, in October 2018, to murdering 100 patients. By May 2019, he was believed to be the most prolific serial killer in peacetime Germany, with up to 300 victims over fifteen years.
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. According to Högel, he had a sheltered or "protected" childhood and was not exposed to violence at home. 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
2015 trial and confession
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.
Prosecutors said Högel acted out of boredom and the desire to show off his resuscitation skills.
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. 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. 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. Prosecutors claimed that Högel was motivated to impress colleagues by healing the patients who he had attacked.
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.
2019 trial and life sentence
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.
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