CLARKSBURG — Families of the Louis A. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) murder victims are finally one step closer to achieving some justice for their lost loved ones this week. Former VAMC Clarksburg Nursing Assistant Reta Mays, age 46, entered guilty pleas to seven counts of second degree murder and one count of assault with intent to commit murder in the Northern District of United States District Court on Tuesday before Judge Thomas S. Kleeh.
The Harrison County woman eventually signed a waiver of an indictment, which allowed her prosecution to proceed by way of information. The crimes reportedly occurred between July 2017 and June 2018 at the Clarksburg VA facility. As a result of Mays’s deliberate actions to administer unauthorized dosages of insulin, the victims suffered severe hypoglycemic events and subsequently died.
According to the information filed by United States Attorney William Powell and his assistants, Mays worked nightshift on the medical surgical unit (Ward 3A) and was responsible for measuring patients’ vital signs, documenting their intake and output, testing their blood glucose levels, and sitting one on one with patients who required observation, while working as a Nursing Assistant at VAMC Clarksburg. Court documents asserted that she was not qualified or authorized to administer any medications, including insulin.
Around June 2018, a VAMC medical doctor reportedly expressed concern about the deaths of patients who had “suffered unexplained hypoglycemic episodes on Ward 3A, including the deaths of multiple non-diabetic patients.” The hospitalist’s concerns led to an internal investigation at VAMC Clarksburg, which were ultimately referred for criminal investigation. Mays was subsequently removed from providing patient care in July 2018 pending the inquiry, per court records.
A very lengthy investigation eventually revealed a pattern of Mays “willfully, deliberately, maliciously, and with malice aforethought” administering lethal doses of exogenous insulin. She was accordingly charged with second degree murder for giving insulin to the following seven patients who either were not diabetic and not prescribed any insulin, who were diagnosed as diabetic, but not ordered to receive any insulin, or who were prescribed a certain type and dosage of insulin that was not adhered to during their hospital admissions: Robert Edge, Sr., Robert Kozul, Archie Edgell, George Shaw, Felix McDermott, Raymond Golden, and W.A.H.
Mays was also charged for assault with intent to commit murder for an eighth victim, R.R.P., who she administered exogenous insulin to when he was not diabetic and not prescribed insulin with intent to cause his death. The factual basis she was not charged with second degree murder for the death of R.R.P., was that he later died in a nursing home approximately two weeks after Mays attempted to kill him with insulin, but “the medical examiner could not opine that insulin was the but-for cause of R.R.P.’s death” as she intended.
“The defendant has admitted to actions that ended the lives of several military veterans who served our country honorably. Our investigation never lost sight of each of these lives and the sacrifices these men made for their country. The investigative work and the time it took to do it was always done with an eye towards honoring these men. Though we can’t bring these men back because of her evil acts, we hope the conclusion of the investigation and guilty plea helps ease the pain of the victims’ families,” Powell stated. “I want to thank the incredible work by the FBI, the VA-OIG, the West Virginia State Police, the Greater Harrison Drug & Violent Crimes Task Force and our prosecution team. I also want to especially thank Attorney General Barr, and the families of the victims who never wavered in their support of this investigation. We look forward to the conclusion of this matter at the sentencing, where we will be seeking the maximum penalty.”
“When you break the trust you’re given as a medical professional and break the law, there are consequences,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Christman. “This was a lengthy and thorough investigation with hundreds of interviews, extensive medical and administrative records to review and forensic testing that needed to be done. These eight Veterans deserved respect and honor. They served our country and we all owe them a debt of gratitude. They didn’t deserve to die at the hands of a nursing assistant who intentionally inflicted pain on them and their families. I commend the work of my agents and our law enforcement partners with the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General.”
A status conference will be held on October 30 regarding sentencing in the matter, and Prosecutors indicate they intend to seek the maximum penalties for Mays. She faces up to life in prison for each count of second degree murder and an additional 20 years for assault with intent to commit murder.