Michaela Roeder known as the Angel of Death
In 1989 nursing sister Michaela
Roeder was charged at Wupppertal, West Germany, with the murder of
seventeen patients by injection with Catapresan, a drug which
affects high blood pressure.
Public prosecutor Karl-Hermann
Majorowsky accused her of playing 'mistress of life or death' over
patients in the intensive care unit of St Peter's Hospital in
Wuppertal-Barmen, by her random selection of who should live or
Twenty-eight bodies were
exhumed after a nurse claimed to have seen Sister Roeder injecting
a cancer patient with Catapresan. Seventeen of the corpses were
found to contain traces of the drug.
Newspaper reports said that
even before suspicion was first aroused, Sister Roeder -who denied
the murder charges- had been nicknamed 'The Angel of Death' by
her colleagues, because of the high death rate in the ward.
She was alleged by police to
have admitted involvement in six deaths 'because she could not
bear to see patients suffer unnecessarily'.
The Serial Killers by Colin
Wilson and Donald Seaman
'Angel of Death' Nurse Gets 11 Years
Los Angeles Times
September 11, 1989
Wupertal, West Germany — A West German nurse dubbed "the angel of
death" was sentenced to 11 years in prison today for killing
patients with lethal injections to end their suffering.
Michaela Roeder, 31, was found guilty of six counts of
manslaughter and one each of attempted manslaughter and mercy
The prosecution had demanded a life sentence and the court's
decision that compassion was Roeder's motive angered some members
of the public in the courtroom.
Unsuspecting colleagues called Roeder "the angel of death" because
of the number of people who died while she was on duty.
Nurse says she killed nine patients
January 19, 1989
WUPPERTAL, West Germany -- A nurse called 'the
angel of death' in one court document admitted at her trial
Thursday she gave eight elderly patients lethal injections to put
them out of their misery and accidentally killed a ninth.
Michaela Roeder, 30, told a senior magistrate's
court in the western German town of Wuppertal she killed eight of
her patients because they had no chance of recovering, but she
acknowledged only one actually asked to be killed.
She also said that in one case she accidentally
killed a patient with the wrong injection.
Roeder is accused of killing 17 patients at the
Wuppertal hospital between 1984 and 1986. Fourteen of her alleged
victims were over 70, and the other three were over 53.
She is accused of giving the patients
injections containing a heart-paralyzing drug and another drug
that reduces blood pressure levels.
At the trial's opening last week, State
Prosecutor Karl-Hermann Majorewsky said Roeder had killed 'to
assert and satisfy her own feeling of superiority' as 'master over
life and death.'
Roeder was arrested in March 1986 and appeared
at lengthy preliminary proceedings that came under sharp criticism
from the press, including Der Spiegel, which described them as
'raving and degrading.'
The weekly took exception to a court document
that referred to Roeder as 'the angel of death' and suggested she
may have had sexual relations with her female superiors.
Nurse Goes On Trial For Allegedly Giving
Fatal Medicine Doses
By Terrence Petty - Associated Press
January 9, 1989
BONN, West Germany (AP) _ A nurse's colleagues
jokingly called her "Angel of Death" because elderly patients kept
dying during her shift. Now, she is going on trial, charged with
killing 17 patients in a two-year period.
Michaela Roeder admits giving the fatal doses
to six of the patients, and says she did it to spare them pain.
But prosecutor Karl Hermann Majorowsky alleges she did it just as
a "demonstration of her power."
"The accused posed as a mistress over life and
death. We are dealing here with cold-blooded murder out of base
motives," a Jan. 9 issue of Der Spiegel magazine quoted Majorowsky
Ms. Roeder's murder trial begins Tuesday in
district court in Wuppertal, about 37 miles north of Bonn. She
faces a possible sentence of life in prison if convicted.
The accusations against Ms. Roeder, 30, have
absorbed the West German press, who have called the alleged
killings "nearly the perfect murder" because they went almost
unnoticed by police.
On a tip from a hospital employee, authorities
had the bodies of 28 deceased former patients of the intensive
care unit at St. Petrus Hospital in Wuppertal exhumed.
According to court records, the examinations
showed that 17 of the patients had received a "fatal dose" of
drugs that can severely affect blood pressure or the heart.
Ms. Roeder is accused of issuing the fatal
injections between February 1984 and February 1986 while working
in the St. Petrus intensive care section.
After Ms. Roeder's arrest in March 1986, she
admitted to law officials that she gave fatal injections to six
patients because she wanted to spare them suffering from their
ailments. Majorowsky says in court papers there are "no clues that
these patients would have died."
Most of the 17 patients were elderly and had
been brought to the intensive care section after operations for
ailments ranging from appendicitis to cancer, according to news
reports. The oldest victim was 94, according to the reports.
The official cause of death for the 17 patients
was heart or circulatory failure, the reports said.
Ms. Roeder began working at the hospital in
1978 and was jokingly dubbed the "Angel of Death" by her
colleagues when elderly patients under her care started dying,
according to Der Spiegel.
"They didn't call Michaela Roeder the 'Angel of
Death' because they suspected foul play," the magazine wrote. "The
little joke in this name was meant to help console her over her
bad luck and these unfortunate coincidences."
The magazine said Majorowsky is expected to
have difficulty proving murder against Ms. Roeder.
"The weak point of the charge is the motive
brought against the defendant. Killing in order to demonstrate
power, to feel that she was a mistress over life or death?," the
magazine asked rhetorically.
Der Spiegel said the trial will likely
investigate whether Ms. Roeder may have been unable to withstand
the stress and demands of working in an intensive care unit. More
than 40 witnesses and medical experts are expected to testify.
If there is insufficient evidence for
premeditated murder, Ms. Roeder could be found guilty of
manslaughter, which carries a minimum sentence of five years in