VA Hospital Serial Killer Gets Multiple Life Sentences

May 13, 2021Hannah Ray Lambert
Reta Mays mugshot, VA hospital murders

Reta Mays, 46, was sentenced for murdering seven veterans in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Mugshot courtesy of West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority via West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

A former nursing assistant who murdered seven elderly veterans and tried to kill an eighth at a Veterans Affairs medical center in West Virginia received multiple life sentences Tuesday for her crimes.

Reta Mays, 46, pleaded guilty in federal court July 14, 2020, to seven counts of second-degree murder and one count of assault with intent to commit murder. In exchange, the government promised not to seek the death penalty, according to WVNews.

The killings happened in 2017 and 2018 while Mays was working the night shift at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, West Virginia, according to local news reports. She sat one-on-one with her victims before injecting them with insulin, causing hypoglycemia. She was not authorized to administer medicine but has admitted to giving several patients insulin with the intent to kill. Her victims ranged in age from 81 to 96. Most had served during the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, and two served in World War II.

Reta Mays press conference veteran murder
The US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia holds a press conference following Reta Mays’ sentencing Tuesday, May 11, 2021, for the murders of seven elderly veterans at a VA hospital in Clarksburg, W.Va. Screenshot via YouTube/USAO-NDWV.

Dozens of family members attended Tuesday’s sentencing hearing in the courtroom and through a video conference, offering gut-wrenching statements, according to West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

“You took some of the greatest men of their time — our loved ones, our veterans — and you preyed on them when they were at their weakest,” said Melanie Proctor, the daughter of 82-year-old Army veteran Felix McDemott, whom Mays murdered. For that, you are a coward. […] May God forgive you, as I never will.”

Defense attorneys argued Mays suffered from medical and mental problems throughout her life, including post-traumatic stress and sexual trauma from while she was on active duty in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, local news outlets reported. 

va hospital clarksburg street view
The Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, W.Va. Photo via Google Maps, October 2018.

US District Judge Thomas S. Kleeh acknowledged Mays’ mental health struggles but pointed out that the murders were calculated. Over the course of the killings, Mays conducted numerous internet searches on female serial killers and watched a Netflix series titled Nurses Who Kill, according to West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

“Several times your counsel has made the point that you shouldn’t be considered a monster,” Kleeh said. “Respectfully, I disagree with that. You’re the worst kind of monster. You’re the kind of monster that no one sees coming.”

Investigators identified more than a dozen unexplained deaths at the medical center during Mays’ employment there but found “sufficient evidence” to charge her with only seven deaths and one assault. Her eighth victim, Russell Ross Posey, died too, but prosecutors couldn’t prove the insulin injection was the reason, WVNews reported.

In addition to spending the rest of her life behind bars, Mays has been ordered to pay $172,624.96 to the victims’ families, the VA hospital, Medicare, and insurance companies, NPR reported.

Read Next: What Is America’s Red Line for Military Action After a Cyberattack?

Hannah Ray Lambert
Hannah Ray Lambert

Hannah Ray Lambert is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die who previously covered everything from murder trials to high school trap shooting teams. She spent several months getting tear gassed during the 2020-2021 civil unrest in Portland, Oregon. When she’s not working, Hannah enjoys hiking, reading, and talking about authors and books on her podcast Between Lewis and Lovecraft.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
Navy Releases First Photos of Chinese Balloon Recovery

In the newest images released by the Navy on Tuesday, sailors from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group...

February 7, 2023Associated Press
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks at the Pentagon in Washington, Nov. 16, 2022. Lawyers for a group of Navy SEALS and other Navy personnel who oppose a COVID-19 vaccination requirement on religious grounds want a federal appeals court to keep alive their legal fight against the Biden administration. Congress voted to end the requirement in December 2022, but vaccine opponents note that commanders can still make decisions on how and whether to deploy unvaccinated troops, under a memo signed last month by Austin. AP photo by Susan Walsh, File.
Vaccine Litigation Lingers After Lifting of Military Mandate

Lawyers for a group of Navy SEALS and other Navy personnel who refuse to be vaccinated for religious...

February 7, 2023Associated Press
Armed Forces Service Medal
Who Earns the Armed Forces Service Medal?

The Department of Defense honors heroism in combat in many ways, but there is also an award — the Ar...

February 7, 2023Noelle Wiehe
Soldiers carry the coffin of Eduard Strauss, a Ukrainian serviceman who died in combat on Jan. 17 in Bakhmut, during a farewell ceremony in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. AP photo by Daniel Cole.
Russian Forces Keep Up Pressue As Ukraine Anniversary Nears

Russian forces are keeping Ukrainian troops tied down with attacks in the eastern Donbas region as M...

February 7, 2023Associated Press
Chinese spy balloon
Blown to Bits! Chinese Spy Balloon Blasted, Plummets Into Sea

The US Air Force downed the Chinese balloon that's been soaring over the US.

February 4, 2023Carl Prine
germany, european union, ukraine gas reserves
Ukraine Wants To Store Europe’s Strategic Gas Reserves

Ukraine maintains 12 underground gas storage facilities with a total capacity of about 31 billion cu...

February 3, 2023Nolan Peterson
Dear John letter
‘Dear John Letters’ — A History of Wartime Breakups

The dreaded Dear John: the wartime breakup notice that took weeks to arrive in the mail.

February 3, 2023Matt Fratus
National Defense Service Medal
A Brief History of the National Defense Service Medal

First issued at the end of the Korean War, the National Defense Service Medal has been awarded durin...

February 2, 2023Jenna Biter
  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
  • Request a Correction
  • Write for Us
  • General Inquiries
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved