German man suspected of killing 21 co-workers by poisoning their food


BERLIN — Police in Germany are investigating the premature deaths of 21 people going back to the year 2000, following the arrest of a man suspected of trying to poison a colleague’s sandwich.

Bielefeld police said Wednesday the deaths, which occurred at the company the man worked for, included a “remarkably high number of heart attacks and cancers.”

A 56-year-old man was arrested in May after surveillance video showed him putting a suspicious powder on a colleague’s sandwich.

“In the beginning we thought it was a misconceived prank between co-workers, and not a murder attempt,” Tilo Blechinger, manager for the metal fittings manufacturer ARI Armaturen, told the DPA news agency, according to USA Today.

Police said the powder contained lead acetate “in amounts that would have been sufficient to cause serious organ damage.” A search of the suspect’s home uncovered dangerous substances used to make poison, including mercury, lead and cadmium.

Two other staff at the company in Schloss Holte-Stukenbrock, south of Bielefeld, are also believed to have fallen ill from heavy metal poisoning. One is in a coma, and the other is on dialysis.

The suspect worked at ARI Armaturen for 38 years, Blechinger said, according to the USA Today story. He described the man as “conspicuously inconspicuous.”

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