German Sentenced for Contaminating Co-Workers' Meals

Lead acetate, one of the toxic compounds mixed by a German factory worker sentenced for poisoning his coworkers [Wikimedia Commons].

Lead acetate, one of the toxic compounds mixed by a German factory worker sentenced for poisoning his coworkers [Wikimedia Commons].

A German factory worker, who can only be identified as Klaus O. due to privacy laws, was found guilty of poisoning his co-workers’ food and drinks with heavy metals at a metal-fitting factory in Schloss Holte- Stukenbrock. He was sentenced to life in prison on March 7 following the verdict, reports the New York Times.

A 57-year old German man who had worked as a machinist at the factory for thirty eight years, Klaus O. was found guilty of sprinkling toxic metals into his coworkers’ meals. According to his coworkers, Klaus O. was generally timid and kept to himself. He had no friends, rarely spoke, and often wore headphones around the plant. He was suspected of attempted murder in at least three cases.

Klaus O. was detained last May after a fellow employee found highly toxic lead acetate on his lunch. At first, the employee assumed that the white powder on his sandwich was some sort of dirt, but grew suspicious after the same powder appeared the next day on his lunch. He alerted ARI Armaturen, the metal-fitting company, which secretly installed a security camera in the break room and recorded Klaus O. purposely contaminating his co-worker’s food, according to the Ladders. Klaus O. would calmly take the lunches out of their containers, taint them, and return them to their containers, arranging them exactly as before.

Co-workers still did not suspect that Klaus O. was purposefully poisoning them until German police later searched the suspect’s home, finding a makeshift laboratory in which he mixed highly toxic substances such as lead acetate, mercury, and cadmium. He was also found to be carrying around a bottle of highly toxic lead acetate pills.

A 23-year-old colleague of the poisoner went into a vegetative state and is not expected to recover. Another went to a doctor at least five times following mysterious symptoms and was found to have severe kidney damage. Yet another colleague was also discovered to have been suffering from serious kidney damage.

In addition to being charged with aggravated attempted murder, Klaus O. faces nine more charges related to his co-workers’ severely deteriorated health conditions. Though no proof has been obtained, he is also suspected to be the cause of a string of 23 deaths of former employees in ARI Armaturen’s plant. Officials have yet to determine whether or not any of these individuals were poisoned.

In Germany, prisoners given life sentences are eligible for potential parole after serving 15 years. However, the sentence in this case included preventive security custody, which indicates that Klaus O. is likely to stay in prison indefinitely. Such a sentence is rare in the German legal system, which highlights the seriousness of the crime.

Neither the victims nor the investigators have any idea why Klaus O. targeted them for poisoning, DW reports. During his case, the perpetrator was silent and never revealed a motive.