A male nurse in Germany who was convicted of killing patients with overdoses of heart medication is now believed to have killed at least 86 people.
German investigators on Monday said that the actual death toll claimed by Niels Hoegel, now 40, may actually be even larger.
Hoegel was convicted in 2015 of two murders and two attempted murders at a hospital in Delmenhorst, a town in northwestern Germany.
Oldenburg Police Chief Johann Kuehme on Monday said that authorities have discovered evidence of 84 killings in addition to the ones that Hoegel was convicted of.
Kuehme added that the actual number of killings is likely higher as some possible victims were cremated, rendering evidence collecting impossible.
“Eighty-four killings … leave us speechless,” he said. “And as if all that were not enough, we must realize that the real dimension of the killings by Niels H. is likely many times worse.”
Hoegel worked at the Oldenburg hospital from 1999 to 2002 and then the Delmenhorst one from 2003 to 2005.
Kuehme admitted Monday health authorities might have prevented a few of the deaths by acting on their suspicions sooner.
“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 – [it could have ended sooner],” he said.
Hoegel said during his trial that he intentionally caused cardiac crises in roughly 90 patients at Delmenhorst’s hospital as he enjoyed the ability to successfully resuscitate them.
The nurse later told investigators that he also killed patients at Oldenburg, which is a northwestern German city.
Prosecutors are expected to try Hoegel on at least some of the additional killings, and the identities of his 84 suspected victims have not been released.
Germany’s judicial system does not allow for consecutive sentences, meaning future convictions against Hoegel would not affect the life term he’s serving.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.