Reta Mays, 46, pleaded guilty to seven counts of second-degree crime and one count of assault with the intent to commit murder last July after committing the murders in 2017 and 2018.
Hospital leaders began suspecting something was amiss in July 2018 and contacted the VA inspector general, who started an investigation into the deaths.
Mays told VA investigators after pleading guilty that she murdered patients “she believed were suffering so that they could pass ‘gently,’ and because she had a lot of stress and chaos in her personal and professional life and these actions gave her a sense of control.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jarod Douglas dismissed Mays’ claims though, calling her actions “predatory and planned.”
“These men were not in need of mercy by the defendant,” Douglas said, according to the Associated Press. “In the end it wasn’t the defendant’s call to make.”
Reta Mays, 46, pleaded guilty to seven counts of second-degree murder and one count of assault with the intent to commit murder last July after committing the murders in 2017 and 2018. (West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority via AP)
The Office of the Inspector General also blamed “policy deficiencies and practice failures” as well as “deficient medication management and security practices” at the hospital for allowing Mays to get away with her killing spree for so long undetected.
“While responsibility for these criminal acts clearly lies with Ms. Mays, the OIG found inattention and missed opportunities at several junctures, which, if handled differently, might have allowed earlier detection of Ms. Mays’s actions or possibly averted them altogether,” VA Inspector General Michael J. Missal wrote in the report.
Nursing assistants at the hospital were improperly allowed to access the medication room, and carts with insulin were left unlocked and unattended on Mays’ ward. Furthermore, the hospital used an “informal tracking system” that allowed Mays to take insulin without arising suspicion, according to the OIG.
The OIG cited “inadequate communication forums and processes,” which were partly caused by the hospitalist schedules of seven days on, seven days off. This lack of communication may have prevented the staff from recognizing the “context and degree of the hypoglycemic events,” the OIG wrote.
The hospital also overlooked excessive force allegations that Mays faced when she was a corrections officer at North Central Regional Jail from 2005-2012.
Mays’ victims were Army veterans Robert Lee Kozul Sr., 89, Archie D. Edgell, 84, Felix Kirk McDermott, 82, and William Holloway, 96; Navy veteran Robert Edge Sr., 82; Air Force veteran George Nelson Shaw Sr., 81; and Army and Air Force veteran Raymond Golden, 88.
They were all expected to survive the conditions for which they were being treated, the OIG said.
Mays cried in court Tuesday before she was sentenced to spend the rest of her life in prison.
“I know that there’s no words that I can say that would alter the families’ pain and comfort,” she said in court. “I don’t ask for forgiveness because I don’t think I could forgive anyone for doing what I did.”
U.S. District Judge Thomas Kleeh spared no sympathy for the convicted murderer as he sentenced her.
“Several times your counsels made the point that you shouldn’t be considered a monster,” Kleeh told Mays Tuesday. “Respectfully, I disagree with that. You are the worst kind. You’re the monster that no one sees coming.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.