17 September 1978 |
Herdecke, North Rhine-Westphalia
|Criminal penalty||Life imprisonment|
|Victims||29 or more|
Span of killings
|January 2003–July 2004|
|July 29, 2004|
Stephan Letter (born 17 September 1978) is a German former nurse and serial killer known to be responsible for the killings of at least 29 patients while he worked at a hospital in Sonthofen, Bavaria between January 2003 and July 2004. The acts have been described as Germany's largest number of killings since World War II.
Letter was a nurse at a hospital that treated a large elderly population. During his employment from January 2003 to July 2004, a pattern of more than 80 deaths occurred on his shifts. Officials exhumed the bodies of more than 40 patients, but another 38 had already been cremated. Letter became a suspect after officials learned that large quantitites of drugs, including the muscle relaxant lysthenon, had gone missing from the hospital. Unsealed medication vials were found in Letter's apartment.
In February 2006, Letter was brought to trial for the deaths of 29 patients. Charges included 16 counts of murder, 12 counts of manslaughter and one count of killing on request. Most of the patients were older than 75, but they ranged in age from 40 to 94 years old. Letter also reportedly gave an inappropriate injection to a 22-year-old soldier with minor injuries from a fall; she lost consciousness but recovered. He confessed to some of the killings, but insisted that he acted out of sympathy and a desire to end the suffering of sick patients. However, the prosecution indicated that Letter was not the assigned nurse for some of the patients and that some of the patients were in stable condition and due to be released from the hospital. That November, Stephan Letter was found guilty of the murders and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Letter is imprisoned in Straubing.
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