Woman given 15-year jail term for German care home killings

Berlin (AFP) – A German court sentenced a woman to 15 years in prison this morning for stabbing four residents to death and severely injuring another at a care home for disabled people where she worked.

The 52-year-old defendant named as Ines Andrea R. was convicted of four counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder over killings at the Thusnelda-von-Saldern-Haus facility in Potsdam, near Berlin, in April.

The regional court required the woman to remain for an unspecified length of time in a secure psychiatric clinic for what chief prosecutor Maria Stiller had called a “profoundly evil” act.

The defendant will also be barred for life from working in care homes.

The court found that Ines Andrea R. had 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 11-centimetre ceramic knife from her bag and stabbed four other residents to death.

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”.

She was also found to have tried to kill a fifth resident with the knife, a woman aged 43, who survived with serious injuries after emergency surgery.

Ines Andrea R. was detained immediately afterwards and placed in urgent psychiatric care.

She told the court at the start of her trial in October 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 married mother of two sons, one of whom is severely disabled, testified that she had “always wanted to be a nurse”.

Ines Andrea R. had been working a late shift at the time of the killings and attacked when her colleagues were busy with other duties.

After closing arguments last week, the defendant expressed her regret, saying she still could not believe she committed the murders.

“I’m really sorry,” she told the court.

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.

Around 65 people live at the residence, which employs more than 80 people.