A man in Germany has been arrested on suspicion of killing up to 21 co-workers by poisoning their lunches.
The unidentified 56-year-old was detained after he was allegedly caught out in the act at a metal fittings factory in Schloss Holte-Stukenbrock, north-west Germany.
Police reportedly found quicksilver, lead and cadmium inside the suspect’s home and they now believe he may responsible for up to 21 deaths of people working at the company since 2000.
Tilo Blechinger, the manager for the metal fittings manufacturer ARI Armaturen, said: ‘In the beginning we thought it was a misconceived prank between co-workers, and not a murder attempt.’
Officers were alerted after a worker at the factory discovered an unknown white powder on his food.
A review of security camera footage found the suspect adding the substance to his co-worker’s lunch.
The powder was later identified as lead acetate – a highly toxic and nearly tasteless substance that can cause serious organ damage.
Two employees from the company are in a coma and another man is on dialysis, with several of the deceased dying of cancer or heart attacks – which could be caused by metal poisoning.
Officials are now considering exhuming the bodies of workers to see if they can detect any traces of metal.
The suspect has been working at the metal factory for 38 years.