The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General’s investigation into the murders of veterans at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg has left open the possibility that Reta Mays is responsible for more deaths than she has admitted.
Tuesday, Mays was sentenced to life in prison for murdering seven veterans, and assault with intent to murder an eighth veteran, by injecting them with fatal doses of insulin which triggered hypoglycemia. The Veterans Administration has settled lawsuits holding the former overnight nurses’ aide responsible for two additional deaths.
That is ten total deaths, and the criminal investigation is closed. However, an appendix in the OIG report raises the issue of other potential victims, though it does not specifically attribute the deaths to Mays.
“We have not found that yet [emphasis added],” Michael Missal, Inspector General of the Department of Veterans Affairs,” told me on Talkline Wednesday.
Missal said investigators examined every death that occurred in the ward where Mays worked. Sixty-six of those patients had at least one hypoglycemic event, which can occur naturally or unnaturally when insulin is administered.
Missal then chose his words carefully. “We didn’t see any others that rose to a criminal level where you can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.” That is a high standard, and one that is not easy for prosecutors to meet.
The OIG then made a point to leave the door open to further investigation. “We have asked the VA to have people from outside Clarksburg look at any patients where there were quality health concerns,” Missal said. “We will be monitoring what the VA is doing and if they find others that raise issues then we will pursue them.”
“So, our work is not done,” he said. “We’re going to continue to follow through.”
Throughout the investigation there has always been the suggestion that the serial killer’s death toll would rise. Charleston Attorney Tony O’Dell, who is representing families of many of the victims, believes Mays killed more than ten veterans.
O’Dell said 21 patients on the floor where Mays worked died within 24 hours of the patient’s expected discharge or being moved to a lower level of care. “These people were not dying,” O’Dell said.
“The report leaves little doubt that Reta Mays killed or caused harm to many more veterans than she has admitted to,” O’Dell said. “Many families deserve to know what the VA and the OIG know.”