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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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)