A German man is suspected of killing 21 of his coworkers by poisoning their food, it was reported.
German authorities launched a probe into a series of deaths at a metal fittings firm in Schloss Holte-Stukenbrock, located in northwestern Germany, German news website DW.com reported. The man was arrested in the town, and police now suspect his culpability in the deaths of 21 people working at the company.
The suspect, 56, was detained in May 2018 after one of the coworkers noticed white powder in his food. The would-be victim told his superiors the details and asked them to review security camera footage, which showed the suspect adding the powder into his lunch.
“In the beginning we thought it was a misconceived prank between coworkers, and not a murder attempt,” said Tilo Blechinger, the manager of the firm, according to DW.
Officials discovered that the powder was lead acetate, a toxic and tasteless substance that can cause severe organ damage.
CNN reported that a small bottle of a “powdery substance” was found in the suspect’s bag.
Police have not named the suspect. He was brought in front of a judge on May 17, and the judge issued an arrest warrant for attempted murder.
When officials searched his apartment, they found mercury, lead, and cadmium. Police said the man “has long tried to produce toxic substances, including heavy metal compounds,” CNN reported.
Officials looked into other deaths and illness at the company since 2000. They noted that 21 former employees died before retirement, CNN reported.
“There were a strikingly high number of heart attacks and cancers among the death cases in the company,” a police statement said.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 29, 2018
Police added that they will now review medical documents and question relatives as well as former doctors. The bodies may be exhumed, CNN noted.
Police didn’t release a motive.
People Gather to Protest ‘Real Bodies’ Exhibition in Sydney
There is reason to believe that the corpses on display have come from non-consenting Chinese citizens.