Number of victims: 15+
Date of murders: 1983 - 1989
Method of murder: Poisoning
Location: Vienna, Austria
One of the more unusual killer teams of the 20th century, the “Lainz Angels of Death” were four female nurses - Maria Gruber, Irene Leidolf, Stephanija Meyer, and Waltraud Wagner - who took to murdering patients at the Lainz General Hospital in Vienna, Austria. Together, they are believed to have claimed over 50 elderly victims, during a killing spree that lasted from 1983 to 1989. Some estimates put their toll at close to 200.
The leader of this deadly collective was 23-year-old Waltraud Wagner, who killed her first victim with an overdose of morphine in 1983. That murder, she later claimed, was a mercy killing, but it led her to realise that she enjoyed playing God, and holding the power of life and death in her hands. In short order, she had recruited Gruber, 19, Leidolf, 21, and Meyer, 43, to the cause.
The “Death Angels” had soon turned murder into a deadly game, killing any patient who happened to annoy them in some minor way. They also invented a new method of murder. They would hold the victim's head back, pinch the nose, and then pour water into the victim's mouth until they drowned in their bed. Since elderly patients often have fluid in their lungs, no one suspected murder.
The callous killers were eventually caught after a doctor overheard them laughing and joking about their exploits at a local tavern. He reported the matter to the police and the “Angels” soon found themselves under arrest. In total, they confessed to 49 murders.
At the subsequent trial, Wagner and Leidolf were sentence to life in prison, while Meyer and Gruber both got fifteen years. All have since been paroled, with their early release sparking outrage among the Austrian public.