Former W.Va. VA employee sentenced to seven life sentences in deaths of seven veterans
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WDTV) - A former nursing assistant was sentenced on Tuesday in federal court for murder and assault charges in connection to the deaths of eight veterans at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in Clarksburg, West Virginia, Acting U.S. Attorney Randolph J. Bernard announced.
Reta Mays, 46, of Harrison County, West Virginia, was sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences, one for each murder and an additional 20 years for the eight victim. Mays pleaded guilty in July 2020 to seven counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of veterans Robert Edge Sr., Robert Kozul, Archie Edgell, George Shaw, W.A.H., Felix McDermott and Raymond Golden. She pleaded guilty to one count of assault with intent to commit murder involving the death of veteran Russell Posey.
Mays was employed as a nursing assistant at the VAMC, working the night shift during the same period of time that the veterans in her care died of hypoglycemia while being treated at the hospital. Nursing assistants at the VAMC are not qualified or authorized to administer any medication to patients, including insulin. Mays would sit one-on-one with patients. She admitted to administering insulin to several patients with the intent to cause their deaths.
This investigation, which began in June 2018, involved more than 300 interviews; the review of thousands of pages of medical records and charts; the review of phone, social media, and computer records; countless hours of consulting with some of the most respected forensic experts and endocrinologists; the exhumation of some of the victims; and the review of hospital staff and visitor records to assess their potential interactions with the victims. Today’s sentence was the result of the tireless and comprehensive efforts of both criminal investigators and healthcare experts.
Mays was also ordered to pay a total of $172,624.96 to the victims’ families, the VA Hospital, Medicare, and insurance companies.
“In a case where we are confronted with the horrific crimes committed by the defendant against those who gave so much of themselves to serve this country, justice is somewhat of an elusive concept. No amount of prison time will erase the pain and loss that the families of these eight brave and honorable men have experienced. These men are heroes in our community, state, and country, and deserved so much more,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bernard. “Mays will now spend every minute of the rest of her life where she belongs, in prison.”
“While responsibility for these heinous criminal acts lies with Reta Mays, an extensive healthcare inspection by our office found the facility had serious and pervasive clinical and administrative failures that contributed to them going undetected,” said VA Inspector General Michael J. Missal. “I hope that the victims’ families can find some measure of solace knowing that Mays was caught and punished, and that steps are being taken to help ensure other families do not suffer the same loss. I would like to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and the West Virginia State Police for their strong partnership throughout this complex investigation.”
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jarod J. Douglas and Brandon S. Flower prosecuted the case on behalf of the government. The Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General and the FBI investigated. The West Virginia State Police and the Greater Harrison Drug & Violent Crimes Task Force, a HIDTA-funded initiative, assisted. U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Kleeh presided.
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) released the below statement Tuesday following the sentencing of former Clarksburg VA Hospital employee Reta Mays:
“While today’s sentencing may not heal the hurt and pain felt by the victims’ families or bring back the innocent lives lost, it is an appropriate and important step toward justice. The actions of Reta Mays were horrifying and sickening, and I hope today’s sentencing will help provide some sort of closure in what has been a long and painful journey. Going forward, it is important that we make sure our veterans receive the best care possible, feel safe while receiving care at our West Virginia VA medical facilities, and tragedies like this never, ever happen again. I am committed to continuing to work to create solutions that will ensure our VA’s in West Virginia and across the country are following the right protocols that protect patients and ensure they are delivered the best possible care.”
Today, U.S. Representatives David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-W.Va.) released the following statement regarding the sentencing of Reta May for the deaths of seven veterans at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, WV.
“The situation at the Clarksburg VA was sickening and never should have happened. We cannot begin to understand the grief and anger of the families whose loved ones were murdered. Today the families of these veterans were finally able to receive justice from the sentencing of Reta May,” McKinley said. “Going forward we must continue to work with VA leaders and review the Office of Inspector General report to improve conditions and transparency at VA hospitals to ensure what happened here never happens again.
“Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our country, and too often the VA has let them down. They deserve better. We will continue to work to reform the VA and provide oversight, so our veterans have peace of mind every time they go to a VA facility,” McKinley added.
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Former Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center employee Reta Mays is set to be sentenced for the deaths of multiple veteran homicides Tuesday morning in Clarksburg.
Mays, 45, pleaded guilty in July 2020 to seven counts of second-degree murder of Robert Edge, Sr., Robert Kozul, Archie Edgell, George Shaw, W.A.H., Felix McDermott and Raymond Golden.
She pleaded guilty to one count of assault with intent to commit murder involving the death of veteran R.R.P. who died two weeks after the incident.
Mays sentencing is set for 9 a.m. Tuesday.
She worked at the Clarksburg VA as a nursing assistant from 2015 to July 2018. Mays administered insulin to eight patients in 2018, according to the charging documents.
The document states nursing assistants were not qualified to administer medication, including insulin.
Around June 2018, a medical doctor employed at the hospital reported a concern about the deaths of the patients who suffered hypoglycemic episodes on the floor, including the deaths of multiple non-diabetic patients, the document states. The concern led to an internal investigation that culminated in a referral for a criminal investigation.
Mays was removed from her position around July 2018.
Families of the victims have filed lawsuits against the Clarksburg VA Medical Center. The first lawsuit was filed in Aug. 2019.
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