German police believe a man may have killed up to 21 coworkers by quietly poisoning their lunch over a span of nearly two decades.
The police are examining the suspicious deaths after the 56-year-old man was caught on camera trying to poison a colleague's lunch in the break room of ARI Armaturen, a metal fittings firm in the town of Schloss Holte-Stukenbrock, according to ABC News.
The company had set up the CCTV camera after a 26-year-old colleague had reported finding a suspicious white powder on his sandwich. The suspect was then caught two additional times on video opening the colleague's lunch box and sprinkling something on the sandwiches.
“We got tests back from our criminal police laboratory in Dusseldorf, which showed it was lead acetate, a poison that could have caused severe organ damage,” Achim Ridder, a spokesman for the Bielefeld Police, told ABC News.
When police took the suspect, who has been identified only as "Klaus O," into custody, a small bottle of a powdery substance was found in his bag, CNN reported.
A search of his apartment also yielded a supply of toxic chemicals such as mercury, quicksilver, lead and cadmium.
“Klaus O remained silent about the allegations and his alleged motive is still unclear,” Ridder told ABC News.
The man, who was arrested for attempted murder in May, had been working at the company for 38 years according to ABC News, and authorities believe it's possible he may also be responsible for suspicious deaths at the company. In particular, they are re-examining the deaths of 21 coworkers since 2000 who all died before the age of retirement to determine whether heavy metal poisoning could have played a part in their deaths.
According to police, most of the deaths were classified as either heart attacks or cancers.
Police will now review medical records and question living family members and former physicians, according to CNN. They may also exhume some of the bodies for further testing.
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