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Clarksburg VA serial killer sentenced to seven life sentences for murdering seven veterans by insulin injection

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 12:28 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va (WDTV) - A former nursing assistant was sentenced on Tuesday in federal court for murder and assault charges in the deaths of eight veterans at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in Clarksburg, West Virginia, Acting U.S. Attorney Randolph J. Bernard announced.

Reta Mays, 46, of Harrison County, West Virginia, was sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences, one for each murder, and an additional 20 years for the eight victim. Mays pleaded guilty in July 2020 to seven counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of veterans Robert Edge Sr., Robert Kozul, Archie Edgell, George Shaw, W.A.H., Felix McDermott, and Raymond Golden. She pleaded guilty to one count of assault with intent to commit murder involving the death of veteran Russell Posey.

Over thirty family members of victims were seated in Judge Thomas Kleeh’s courtroom for sentencing with 350 people watching via Zoom. the family members of victims were able to share stories about their family members and speak to Mays directly from the stand. Those who could not be in attendance prerecorded video messages that were played during the hearing. The common question among most of these testimonies was the lingering question of why Mays had killed their family members.

“Why would anyone want to kill dad?” asked Amanda Edgell, daughter of Archie Edgell.

Mays was employed as a nursing assistant at the VAMC, working the night shift during the same period of time that the veterans in her care died of hypoglycemia while being treated at the hospital. Nursing assistants at the VAMC are not qualified or authorized to administer any medication to patients, including insulin. Mays would sit one-on-one with patients. She admitted to administering insulin to several patients with the intent to cause their deaths.

Mays had the chance to speak Tuesday morning. In, what is now the longest statement heard by the public, Mays, through tears, apologized for her actions.

“I can only say I am sorry for the pain I caused these families,” Mays said.

In closing, Mays’ defense cited her history of PTSD and military sexual trauma while continuing to ask for a sentence of 30 years, the minimum allowed by law. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jarod Douglas described the violent deaths of each of these veterans before continuing to ask for the maximum sentence, 7 life sentences and 20 years.

Judge Thomas Kleeh announced the sentence just before noon, repudiating a claim that she was not a monster.

“You are the worst kind. The kind of monster no one sees coming,” Judge Kleeh said.

This investigation, which began in June 2018, involved more than 300 interviews; the review of thousands of pages of medical records and charts; the review of phone, social media, and computer records; countless hours of consulting with some of the most respected forensic experts and endocrinologists; the exhumation of some of the victims; and the review of hospital staff and visitor records to assess their potential interactions with the victims. Today’s sentence was the result of the tireless and comprehensive efforts of both criminal investigators and healthcare experts.

Mays was also ordered to pay a total of $172,624.96 to the victims’ families, the VA Hospital, Medicare, and insurance companies.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jarod J. Douglas and Brandon S. Flower prosecuted the case on behalf of the government. The Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General and the FBI investigated. The West Virginia State Police and the Greater Harrison Drug & Violent Crimes Task Force, a HIDTA-funded initiative, assisted. U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Kleeh presided.

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