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Fifth person identified in VA medical center deaths

PARKERSBURG — A fifth veteran who died under suspicious circumstances last year at the Veterans Administration hospital in Clarksburg was identified by USA Today.

William Alfred “Sport” Holloway, 96, of Fairmont died on April 8, 2018, while at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center, the newspaper said.

An investigation is under way at the medical center where authorities are investigating the deaths of possibly 10 veterans who died around the same time under similar suspicious circumstances, hypoglycemia, or severe low blood sugar. The deaths were first reported in August.

Holloway’s family was contacted by Veterans Administration investigators in the fall last year for permission to exhume the body, USA Today said. The autopsy showed he had hypoglycemic events, but the family believed Holloway, who was a diabetic and was on insulin, died of sepsis, the newspaper said.

“There is no natural cause that would explain this profound degree of (persistent) hypoglycemia,” the autopsy said, according to the newspaper. The low blood sugar “is strongly suspicious” he was given an unprescribed dose of insulin, but the autopsy said the cause of death was undetermined, the newspaper said.

Members of the Holloway family couldn’t be reached for comment by The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. Attorneys representing the families of other veterans were unfamiliar with Holloway.

Michael Nacincik, the public affairs officer, for the Department of Veterans Affairs, referred The News and Sentinel to the statements released in August by the Inspector General and the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia.

Holloway served in the United States Army.

The first disclosure there were a number of veterans dying under suspicious circumstances at the medical center was in a notice of claim to the Veterans Administration filed by Melanie Proctor of Ellenboro for the April 9, 2018, death of her father, Felix K. McDermott, 82. The notice said investigators believe nine or 10 other veterans may have died under similar suspicious means and they had a person of interest in the deaths.

An autopsy performed on McDermott showed he died from hypoglycemia from an unprescribed injection of insulin. The medical examiner determined the death was a homicide.

Archie Dail Edgell, 84, who lived most of his life in Doddridge County, died on March 26, 2018. George Nelson Shaw Jr., 81, died April 10, 2018, also from hypoglycemia. John Hallman, 87, died on June 13, 2018. The deaths are under investigation by the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, the FBI and the independent Office of the Inspector General in the Veterans Administration. Dr. Glenn Snider, director of the medical center, said the person of interest is no longer at the facility.

(Mancini can be contacted at jmancini@newsandsentinel.com)

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