One of the most common questions being asked about the suspicious deaths at the Louis A. Johnson Veterans Hospital in Clarksburg is, “Why hasn’t anyone been arrested?
It’s an understandable question given what the public has learned about the horrific case.
At least ten veterans, and perhaps more, died under suspicious circumstances while undergoing treatment at the VA. Autopsies on several of the victims confirm they died as a result of large does of insulin they were not scheduled to receive.
There is a common thread to the cases we know about: The veterans were patients in 2017 or 2018. They were all in unit 3A. The veterans were aging and sick, but not dying, and in several cases their conditions were improving until their blood sugar suddenly dropped precipitously, contributing to or causing their deaths.
The VA has even said that a person of interest in the investigation has been “removed from their position in Clarksburg. The name of this individual is clearly known to the VA and investigators, so it is understandable for the public to wonder why this person is not behind bars.
But it’s not that simple.
There were multiple potential victims here, perhaps more than the ten that were first reported. While the cases are similar in some respects, they are also different in many more. Each patient had their own health history and co-morbidities.
There are reams of records of their treatments that must be reviewed and analyzed. The autopsy results are clearly strong evidence of foul play, but some of the bodies are too badly decomposed for the autopsies to be conclusive.
The evidence so far points to large doses of insulin as the cause of death in several of the cases. Most insulin is available without a prescription, meaning the assailant could have easily purchased the drug over the counter.
Even though there is a person of interest, investigators must rule out all others. Imagine how many people could have been in and out of the hospital over a period of months.
Additionally, the extensive publicity about the case has prompted others whose family members have died while at the VA hospital to come forward. Those deaths may be unrelated to the ones under suspicion, but investigators must look at each case.
U.S. Attorney Bill Powell cautioned on Talkline recently that his office will get only one shot at this, and he’s emphatic about getting it right. He said there is not a day that goes by that he’s not being briefed on the investigation.
Powell also knows well that if he does not have this case buttoned up, a good defense attorney can chip away at it, piece by piece, until they have established enough reasonable doubt in the mind of jurors for an acquittal.
Linda Shaw, whose father George Shaw, is among those confirmed homicides at the VA, told me she has complete confidence in the investigation. “These boys are dotting every I and crossing every T, and I say let them do it. Let them do their investigation however long it takes. Let’s get the truth out there.”
If she can wait, so can the rest of us. This is a ghastly case where the person or persons responsible will be held accountable, but it’s going to take some time.