Nurse charged with murder of several patients at small-town hospital

Věra Marešová, photo: CTK

A court in North Bohemia has remanded a nurse in custody on charges of killing several patients at a small-town hospital. The case was initially reported as the possible mercy killing of an elderly woman. But now police accuse the nurse of murdering five other patients, though the real number could be even higher.

Věra Marešová,  photo: CTK
A district court in Ústí nad Labem on Thursday remanded former nurse Věra Marešová in custody on charges of murdering six patients at a hospital in the small town of Rumburk.

The case first came to light in early September. It was reported then that Marešová may have committed a mercy killing three months earlier by giving an overdose of potassium to a terminally ill elderly cancer patient, causing her heart to stop. The story sparked a debate on euthanasia.

However, after questioning Marešová, the police said just days later that they had ruled out the possibility of mercy killing.

They investigated a further 11 deaths at the Rumburk hospital from 2010 to this year, commissioning an expert opinion from a cardiologist. He found that five of the deaths appeared to have been caused in the same way.

František Stibor is the state attorney who proposed the charges against the 50-year-old Marešová.

“The court expert fingered 11 suspicious cases. In the end, the same modus operandi was unequivocally established in five of them. Those actions led to the investigation being extended. Further twists cannot be ruled out.”

The director of the Rumburk hospital, Darek Šváb, has also said that the actual number of victims could be even higher than six. He told the newspaper Mladá fronta Dnes that the facility had turned over the medical records of dozens of deceased patients to the police.

Photo: Barbora Kmentová
After Thursday’s hearing, spokesman Jan Tichý explained why the court had acceded to a request to hold Marešová on remand.

“The judge has placed in custody a woman who has been charged with the unusually serious crime of murdering several persons. The reason for the remand is a fear that the accused could flee and go into hiding so as to avoid a high punishment.”

The former nurse was facing up to 18 years for the suspected killing of the first reported victim. If found guilty of multiple murder, she could spend the rest of her days behind bars.

The case will no doubt remind many in the Czech Republic of so-called heparin killer Petr Zelenka. A health worker who used the blood thinner to murder seven patients in Havlíčkův Brod in 2006, he is now serving a life sentence.