A nursing assistant has been charged with killing nine residents at a retirement home in western Germany over an 18-month period, prosecutors said Wednesday. The 27-year-old woman, who was not identified, was charged with four counts of murder, four of manslaughter and one of mercy killing, said Friedrich Apostel, a spokesman for prosecutors in Bonn.
She is accused of smothering the residents, women aged 78 to 93, with cushions or towels, and in one case of deliberately failing to assist a patient who was having difficulty breathing. The deaths took place between November 2003 and April 2005.
The woman admitted to the killings in questioning but then retracted her statements, Apostel said. However, he added, "we have no doubt that the original, detailed confession corresponds to the truth."
Apostel said that in the retracted statements, the woman said she had killed four of the patients because she was annoyed by them, another four "to put them out of their misery" and one at the patient's request.
The management of the home, just outside Bonn, alerted investigators early this year after four patients died over four months when the nursing assistant was on duty, the AP says.
No date was set for a trial. If convicted, the woman could face a life prison sentence.