Hoppy Kercheval/MetroNews

Norma and Linda Shaw hold a portrait of veteran George Shaw, who died at the VA hospital in Clarksburg.

If you drive out past Lumberport in Harrison County and stay on the road when it turns to gravel, you will eventually come to the end of the road, and there you will find the Shaw farm.  The 111 acres have been in the family for a couple of generations, and it’s where several family members live.

Norma Shaw and her daughter, Linda, live in the last house. Up until March of last year, that’s also where Norma’s husband and Linda’s father, George, lived.  That’s where I visited with the Shaws last Friday.  Between cups of coffee and Linda’s homemade cookies, we talked at length about the tragic and malicious events that had changed their family forever.

George Shaw, Sr., was a career Air Force man—28 years—and he spent another eight years after retirement working at the Louis A. Johnson VA Hospital in Clarksburg.

Linda Shaw was also career Air Force.  The family depended on the VA hospital for their care.  It was only natural that when George Shaw became ill that he would go to the VA.  Norma said doctors told them George had become dehydrated.  He would be better in a couple of days and could come home.

But Shaw took a dramatic turn for the worse. “His sugar dropped. He wasn’t doing anything.  He was dying,” Linda said. Overnight he went from robust for his age to dying and it’s a shock.”

He ended up in hospice care and died a few weeks later. The family buried him and grieved.  Then, months later, investigators from the FBI and the VA’s Office of Inspector General came to see Norma unannounced.

They had shocking news. George Shaw’s death was suspicious. They wanted to exhume the body for an autopsy.   The medical report revealed that Shaw, who was not a diabetic, had been injected with insulin at four different places on his body and that killed him.

“When they said it was homicide, my sister and I were like, ‘We knew it.’  We knew he never should have died. We knew there was something wrong,” Linda said.

Federal investigators have told the Shaws there is a person of interest, but no one has been arrested.  The Shaws say they have faith in the investigation.  “These boys are dotting every I and crossing every T, and I say let them do it,” Linda Shaw said.  “Let them do their investigation however long it takes.  Let’s get the truth out there.”

The truth will reveal more than just what happened to Shaw.  Felix Kirk McDermott, an 82-year-old Army veteran, was also a homicide victim at the same VA hospital at about the same time as Shaw.  Investigators say up to nine more patients died under suspicious circumstances.

The Shaw family feels betrayed.  “How could this happen?  How could it happen at someplace I trust?” Linda Shaw asked.  “We’ve got to make sure this never happens again to anybody anywhere, not just our family.”

Norma Shaw is angry about what happened to her husband. They would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this past June.  “That was taken away from me,” she said.

 

 

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