Photo: becca.peterson26 via Flickr
For most of us, our biggest office food horror are petty grievances like that colleague who keeps eating your sandwich. But a new case in Germany goes beyond someone stealing a condiment from the office fridge. According to ABC News, one employee is suspected of killing 21 of his colleagues by poisoning their lunches.
Coworker suspected of poisoning colleague’s lunches
The suspicion began when a 26-year-old employee noticed an unknown white powder on his sandwich and reported it to his manager. The company, a metal fitting firm, then installed a CCTV camera to monitor who was sprinkling powder on employee’s lunches. The camera allegedly revealed that a 56-year-old employee had been opening lunch boxes and dusting powder on them, police said. Lab results showed that the powder contained lead acetate, a toxin that could cause severe organ damage.
“In the beginning, we thought it was a misconceived prank between co-workers, and not a murder attempt,” firm manager Tilo Blechinger told DPA, a German news agency.
What would motivate someone to harm their coworkers like this? That is still being investigated. Identified only as “Klaus O” by police and described as “conspicuously inconspicuous” by his manager, the suspect had toxic chemicals like mercury, quicksilver, lead and cadmium in his home after police searched his apartment. The suspect was a longtime employee who had been at the company for 38 years, putting deaths that had occurred during those decades in a new sinister light. In total, police said they were looking into 21 cases of employees dying under suspicious circumstance since 2000.
This is not the first time that an employee has used the seemingly innocent vessel of office food to act out their revenge on coworkers. Last month, a woman baked laxative-laced brownies for a coworker’s farewell party. However strict and secure your office environment is, every coworker needs to engage in the vulnerable act of eating food. Eating is where we put our guard down and trust that the food we put in our mouths is the food we packed for ourselves that morning. But sometimes. as these cases remind us, that trust can be fatally misplaced.