POTSDAM, GERMANY (AFP) - The trial of a woman accused of stabbing four residents to death and severely injuring another at a German care home for disabled people where she worked began on Tuesday (Oct 26).
Named as Ines Andrea R., the 52-year-old suspect is charged with four counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder following the bloodbath at the Thusnelda-von-Saldern-Haus facility in Potsdam, near Berlin, in April.
She allegedly first tried to strangle two residents, believing one of them to be dead and giving up on the other because it was too difficult.
She then pulled an 11cm ceramic knife from her bag and stabbed four other residents to death, prosecutors say.
The victims, two women and two men aged between 31 and 56, were found dead in their rooms, with police saying they had been subjected to "intense, extreme violence".
The suspect is also accused of trying to kill a fifth resident with the knife, a woman aged 43, who survived with serious injuries.
Ines Andrea R. was detained immediately after the incident and placed in urgent psychiatric care due to what prosecutors described as "pertinent evidence" of severe mental illness.
She told the court on Tuesday she had been a lonely child who had been "holed up at home", had a bad relationship with her mother and "didn't know how to build friendships".
"I felt a deep sadness and fear of life, even as a five-year-old," she said.
The mother of two sons, one of whom is severely disabled, said she had "always wanted to be a nurse".
'Could not defend themselves'
Ines Andrea R. had been working a late shift at the time of the killings. The two carers who worked with her were busy with administrative work, prosecutors said.
"The defendant took advantage of the fact that the two colleagues were busy with other activities," they said, adding that she knew her victims were "people who could not defend themselves".
The Thusnelda-von-Saldern-Haus, run by the Lutheran Church's social welfare service, specialises in helping those with physical and mental disabilities, including blind, deaf and severely autistic patients.
It offers live-in care as well as schools and workshops.
Around 65 people live at the residence, which employs more than 80 people.
Germany has seen a number of high-profile murder cases from care facilities.
In the most prominent trial, nurse Niels Hoegel was sentenced in 2019 to life in prison for murdering 85 patients in his care.
Hoegel, believed to be Germany's most prolific serial killer, murdered patients with lethal injections between 2000 and 2005, before he was eventually caught in the act.
Last year, a Polish healthcare worker was sentenced to life in prison in Munich for killing at least three people with insulin.