Police have arrested a man suspected of killing as many as 21 engineering workers over two decades at valve manufacturing company in western Germany. The 56 year old man identified as Klaus O, was caught on surveillance video sprinkling a powdery substance onto a co-worker’s sandwich in May; security footage confirmed the event after the co-worker found the white substance and alerted his bosses. “In the beginning, we thought it was a misconceived prank between co-workers and not a murder attempt”, the company manager told. The police identified the substance as lead acetate, which is highly toxic and can be fatal if ingested. A search of the suspect’s home turned up “poison-making materials”, including mercury, lead and cadmium.
After discovering the poisonous materials, police widened their investigation to include 21 employees of the company who have died since 2000, and may exhume those bodies. Although the deaths were attributed to natural causes at the time, police say they include a remarkably high number of heart attacks and cancers and they could have been caused by heavy metal poisoning. Police are also investigating the possible poisoning of three living employees. Two are in a coma and the other is receiving dialysis treatment. A man who worked with Klaus O, for three decades feel mysterious ill three months ago with kidney failure and wonders if he too is a victim. “Doctors could not explain why I got so sick”, the man tell. Police have assembled a 15 member team to investigate the deaths. Klaus O has so far only been charged with attempted murder.