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A.K.A.: "Sister Godfrida"
Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Poisoner - Nun of  the Apostolic Congregation of St. Joseph and geriatrics manager in a public hospital - Morphine addict
Number of victims: 3 +
Date of murder: 1976 - 1977
Date of arrest: February 14, 1978
Date of birth: 1933
Victim profile: Patients aged between 75 and 80 "too difficult at night"
Method of murder: Poisoning (overdoses of insulin)
Location: Wetteren, East Flanders, Belgium
Status: Found not fit to stand trial and, subsequently, interred in a psychiatric facility

Early in 1977, nurses employed at the public hospital in picturesque Wetteren, Belgium, began comparing notes on curious events in the 38-bed geriatric ward. 

For openers, the death rate had increased dramatically in recent months, with twenty-one patients lost in the span of a year. Other cases revealed signs of sadistic mistreatment, including catheters ripped from the bladders of elderly patients by "persons unknown." 

In time, suspicion focused on 44-year-old Sister Godfrida, a Josephite nun assigned to the geriatric ward. Born Cecile Bombeek, the product of a staunchly Catholic home, Sister Godfrida adopted her religious name after joining the Apostolic Order of St. Joseph.

Her behavior appears to have been exemplary before 1976, when the aftermath of brain surgery left her addicted to morphine. Narcotics are available in Wetteren, despite stiff criminal penalties, but they are not inexpensive. Neither were Sister Godfrida's bisexual love affairs with a retired missionary and a local teacher; her lovers enjoyed expensive food, vintage wine, and Cecile was anxious to oblige. 

In time, police contended, she began to loot the savings and personal property of her aged patients, embezzling more than $30,000 in a year's time. On the side, she began to display sadistic tendencies, abusing her charges, killing at least three with insulin overdoses when they became "too difficult at night."

In retrospect, it was impossible to estimate the lethal sister's body-count. Dr. Jean-Paul De Corte, spokesman for the hospital's governing board, declared, "It could just as well be thirty people as three." In custody, Cecile's confession to three homicides was sufficient to bring an indictment. 

In March 1978, she was committed for psychiatric observation, to determine her fitness for trial.

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans


Belgian Serial Killer Geriatric Nurse, Cecile Bombeek – 1978

Sister Godfrida (Cecile Bombeek), a nun of  the Apostolic Congregation of St. Joseph and geriatrics manager in a public hospital in Flemish Wetteren, was officially accused of killing three patients – because they were too noisy at night – but was suspected of murdering more than 30 between 1976 and 1978.

She was also accused of stealing a large sum of money from her victims and suspected repeated acts of torture, ripping catheters from patients. Time magazine reported that the killer was caught through the efforts of fellow nuns working in the 38-bed geriatric ward, who kept a diary of mysterious deaths and other irregularities. [See: “Crime: The Nun's Story,” Time Magazine, Mar. 13, 1978]

FULL TEXT: Ghent, Belgium – A nun who became a drug addict after undergoing brain surgery was charged with murder Thursday in the death of three of her elderly patients.

Police sources said the nun, Cecile Bombeek, 44, known as SisterSœur Godfrida (ex-Cecile BOMBEEK) religieuse « Adhérente à l'ordre apostolitique de Saint Joseph » fut accusée officiellement du meurtre de trois patients. Godfrida, had confessed to killing the three patients at a public assistance hospital by injecting them with overdoses of insulin.

Sister Godfrida was arrested on Saturday on charges of forging medical prescriptions and drug abuse. She became a morphine addict after she underwent brain surgery in 1976, the sources said. [Other sources state that she was already a morphine fiend before the surgery, and that the operation was done to “cure” her of the addiction.]

But the investigation into how she managed to obtain the amounts of morphine she needed, soon aroused suspicion about her treatment of the patients in the old people’s ward of the public assistance hospital in nearby Wettern.

The police sources said the nun admitted on questioning that she killed three patients, aged between 75 and 80, by administering overdoses of insulin in July and August last year, the sources said.

Insulin injections are used to keep the sugar content down in the blood of diabetes patients. But when administered in high doses to non-diabetic persons, it can cause such a considerable drop in the blood glucose that the injected person lapses into a coma and dies after a few hours, medical sources said.

Sister Godfrida was sent to a private clinic for addiction treatment in Ghent on August 28th last year.

(“Drug Addict Nun Charged With 3 Murders,” syndicated (UPI), St. Petersberg Press (Fl.), Feb. 17, 1978, p. 14 A)



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