The Dead Have No Lobby

The Geriatric Nurse

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Documentary | 45 min | ARD | 2006
Written by: Sabine Rückert | Director: Manfred Uhlig | Camera: Christian Girardet
Cast: Dagmar Gruhl, Josef Tratnik

The series “The Dead Have No Lobby”, based on the book of the same name by Sabine Rückert, consists of two parts - “The Electrician” and “The Geriatric Nurse” - and explores the question of how it is possible that people in Germany are murdered without anybody noticing. According to a study performed by the medical forensic expert Prof. Bernd Brinkmann in Münster, these cases number between 1200 and 2400; in other words, every other murder in Germany goes unsolved. The reason: lack of interest and shortage of funding on the part of the police and the public prosecutor when it comes to investigating dubious cases of death as revealed by post-mortem examinations. A further reason is that in this country the general doctor issues a death certificate, and in most cases these doctors are not trained to spot indications of murder such as marks of strangulation or symptoms of poisoning.

This was the case with the geriatric nurse from Cologne who killed six of her patients there by administering the neuroleptic drug Truxal. In each case the general doctors registered the death of the patient as due to "natural causes"; it was only in the last case that attentive relatives became alarmed and notified the police. The chances of murders of elderly people going undetected are particularly high, since few people become suspicious when an old person dies.

The conclusions reached by the writer Manfred Uhlig and his team after more than a year's research are hardly comforting: serial murderers such as the geriatric nurse and the electrician could strike again at any time - without anybody realising it.