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German man caught poisoning co-worker’s food may be culprit for 21 deaths

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The arrest of a German man last month after a co-worker caught him trying to poison his lunch has led officials to believe he may be responsible for a string of deaths at an industrial plant.

The 56-year-old man was arrested in a northwest German town where he worked at a metal fittings company. Local police are suspecting he might be responsible for 21 deaths of people who worked at the same company, according to German broadcasting company Deutsche Welle.

The report said that police apprehended the man in May when the co-worker noticed an unknown white powder on his food.

The would-be victim alerted his supervisors and requested they review security cameras which showed the man putting the substance in co-worker’s lunch, DW reported.

Thinking the incident was merely a prank between co-workers, management did not initially suspect anything nefarious, a supervisor said.

That is, until authorities identified the powder as lead acetate, a highly toxic and nearly tasteless substance that could inflict serious organ damage.

Police located other substances used to make poison at the suspect’s home, including mercury, lead and cadmium, DW reported.

Earlier this week, officials said they will expand their investigation to include 21 previous deaths of employees who died since 2000 as well as two employees in comas and another on dialysis.

Most died of cancer or heart attacks, which are effects of heavy metal poisoning, according to German public broadcaster WDR.

The investigation will include speaking with relatives and doctors of alleged victims and the possibility of exhuming the bodies of the deceased to determine the presence of metals.

The suspect has been working at the company, ARI Armaturen for 38 years, and a manager described him to DW as “conspiciously inconspicuous.”

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