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Questions Linger as Reta Mays Faces Sentencing for VA Murders

Convicted serial killer Reta Mays is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg.  Judge Thomas Kleeh will likely order that the 46-year-old former overnight nurses’ aide at the Louis A. Johnson Veterans Hospital in Clarksburg spend the rest of her life in prison.

Mays admitted during a plea hearing last year that she murdered seven aging veterans and contributed to the death of an eighth by injecting them with lethal doses of insulin. The veterans died from hypoglycemia.

Reta Mays

Judge Kleeh asked Mays during that plea hearing, “Did you in fact do what they say you did?” Mays answered, “Yes sir.”  However, she did not explain why, and that is the lingering question.  What was her motive?

Former U.S. Attorney Bill Powell, whose office investigated the case and brought the charges, calls that the “million dollar question.”  “She never told us why she did it,” Powell said.

“Obviously, the families want to know. I’m curious to know,” Powell said, “but I’m not sure anyone’s going to walk away satisfied in the end.”

Our Brad McElhinny reports that Mays’ lawyers may have built an argument based on her military service.

“Her defense attorneys in a previous status hearing were focused on gathering records about Mays’ mental health dating back to her 2003 deployment to Iraq, where she was a chemical equipment repairer with the West Virginia National Guard’s 1092nd Engineering Battalion,” McElhinny reported.

Tony O’Dell, the Charleston attorney who represents many of the families of Mays’ murder victims, does not believe that explanation will fly.

“I believe we’re going to hear that it’s post-traumatic stress disorder, but we have a lot of veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder who don’t murder people,” O’Dell said on Talkline last week.

If the “why” explanation will be unsatisfactory, perhaps families can at least get an answer to the “how” question; how was Mays able to murder eight veterans—and probably two more, based on successful civil lawsuits—over a period of months without the hospital detecting something was amiss?

The Veterans Administration Office of the Inspector General is expected on Tuesday to release the results of its long-awaited investigation. This report should shine a much-needed spotlight on the procedural breakdowns at the hospital that allowed Mays to carry out her despicable crimes.

“The one common thread that runs through all the families that I’ve represented has been just this tremendous feeling of betrayal that these families will carry with them the rest of their lives,” O’Dell said.

Tomorrow will be the end of the line for Mays, when she will likely be ordered locked away for the rest of her days.  Hopefully for the families of her victims, tomorrow can mark the beginning of their healing.


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