A fiftyish native of Walterhausen, in East Germany, Rudloff was a registered nurse, known for his kindly demeanor, who "took real pride in healing the sick." Unknown to his acquaintances, however, Rudloff harbored lethal resentment toward licensed physicians more qualified than himself... and against one physician in particular. In early 1954, the stuffy chief surgeon at Walterhausen's Municipal Hospital discovered Rudloff's love affair with a female nurse on staff, confronting them with a demand that they decide between romance and their employment. Rudloff grudgingly agreed, but in the next few weeks, three of the surgeon's patients died in the aftermath of routine surgery, the cause of death unspecified, their remains cremated as a matter of course. That August, Rudloff huddled with the wife of a recuperating patient, requesting her telephone number as a hedge against post-operative difficulties. When she informed him that her husband would be discharged soon, the nurse replied, "You never know." This time, the patient's sudden death produced demands for an investigation, and lethal traces of arsenic were found by the autopsy surgeon. Under questioning by police, Rudloff confessed to four counts of homicide and was sentenced to die on the guillotine in October 1954.