By Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
A nurse who was convicted of killing two patients and trying to kill two more may have had many more victims.
Niels Hoegel was convicted two years ago of killing two people, and attempting to kill two others, by giving them overdoses of heart medication, The Associated Press reported.
Last year, prosecutors thought the number of victims could have been as high as 43. But now they said that number may be short, and they suspect he had at least 86 victims.
Authorities have been exhuming bodies of former patients of Hoegel. So far, they have found evidence of 84 killings, in addition to Hoegel’s convictions. Officials believe there are more, since some potential victims were cremated, the AP reported.
The victims’ names have not been released.
Hoegel’s former employers may be held accountable, at least in part, for the deaths.
“If the people responsible at the time, particularly at the Oldenburg clinic but also later in Delmenhorst, hadn’t hesitated to alert authorities — for example police, prosecutors,” he could have been stopped earlier, Johann Kuehme, Oldenburg’s police chief, told the AP.
Officials are pursuing criminal charges against former staff members of both clinics.
Hoegel admitted during his trial that he caused cardiac crises in approximately 90 patients so he could resuscitate them. He said he liked the feeling of bringing them back.
If Hoegel is tried and convicted on any additional charges, it won’t affect his life sentences, since the German court system doesn’t allow for consecutive sentences, the AP reported.