Mays sentenced to 7 life terms
PARKERSBURG — A former aide convicted of killing patients at the Louis A. Johnson Clarksburg VA Medical Center got the appropriate sentence, a U.S. senator from West Virginia said Tuesday.
Reta Mays, 46, was sentenced Tuesday to seven consecutive life sentences for murder and 20 years for assault with attempt to murder an eighth victim at the facility. She injected them with unprescribed doses of insulin, causing hypoglycemia and their deaths.
“Justice has been served,” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told reporters in a video press conference Tuesday from Washington, D.C.
The report by the Office of the Inspector General about the homicides, also released Tuesday, cites numerous deficiencies, the most egregious being a background check was never done on Mays before she was hired, Manchin said. For example, a check would have found Mays was involved in an allegation of excessive force while employed at the North Central Regional Jail, Manchin said.
Other problems included security was lax with the pharmaceuticals, including no video monitors, and a lack of accountability, he said. Incidents went unreported, Manchin said.
“It makes no sense whatsoever,” he said.
Manchin said he will meet with Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough on Monday to review the Inspector General’s report and discuss the insufficiencies.
“We’re going to be all over it,” Manchin said.
Mays appeared in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg on Tuesday before Judge Thomas Kleeh. Investigations have been underway into other incidents at the medical center.
Manchin has kept involved in the process since the revelations of the deaths several years ago.
Mays, in an interview after she pleaded guilty, said “she administered insulin to patients she believed were suffering so that they could pass ‘gently’ and because she had a lot of stress and chaos in her personal and professional life and these actions gave her a sense of control,” the report by the inspector general said.
“That’s a deranged person,” Manchin said. “Totally deranged person.”
A revelation of a killer at the medical center was disclosed in a notice of claim by the daughter of Felix McDermott, who died at the center, against the government over his death.
Mays was convicted of killing: Robert Edge Sr., 82, in July 2017; Robert Kozul, 89, in January 2018; Archie Edgell, 84, in March 2018; George Shaw, 81, in March 2018; a patient identified as W.A.H., 96, in April 2018; McDermott, 82, in April 2018; and Raymond Golden, 88, in June 2018. The assault with intent to commit murder was of a patient identified as R.R.P., 92.
Statements were released Tuesday by Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.
“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.”
McKinley has introduced bills intended to enhance security and patient safety at VA centers.
“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,” Capito said. “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.”
(Mancini can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)