'Angel of Death' Reta Mays Gets 7 Life Sentences for Murdering Elderly Patients at VA Hospital

Reta Mays
Reta MaysHandout

Reta Mays sobbed as she was sentenced to life in prison. She murdered seven elderly veterans with insulin injections.

A former nursing assistant who confessed to murdering seven elderly patients at a Veterans Affairs hospital by injecting them with insulin will spend the rest of her life behind bars.

Reta Mays, 46, wept as U.S. District Judge Thomas Kleeh called her the "worst kind" of monster. "You are the monster no one sees coming," he said. He sentenced her to life in prison for each patient she murdered, plus 20 years for an eighth victim she attempted to kill.

Before being led out of the courtroom Tuesday, Mays sat down and buried her head in her hands as she sobbed.

"There are no words I can say that would offer the families any comfort," the former nurse's aide earlier told the West Virginia court. "I can only say that I'm sorry for the pain I caused the families and my family. I don't ask anyone for forgiveness because I don't think I could forgive anyone for doing what I did." 

Last year, Mays pleaded guilty to murdering the seven men, who ranged in age from 81 to 96. She also pleaded guilty to assaulting another patient with the intent to murder. 

The killings occurred at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center from July 2017 to June 2018. The victims had served in the Air Force, Navy and Army during World War II and the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam.

Assistant U.S Attorney Jarod Douglas said during the sentencing hearing that Mays once told hospital staff trying to save one of her patients, "Something always happens when I'm in the room, and I don't know why." 

After the hearing, the inspector general at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs released details from an investigation of the hospital. The report showed “serious, pervasive, and deep-rooted clinical and administrative failures” at the medical center, which allowed the murders to remain undiscovered for nearly a year.

“While responsibility for these criminal acts clearly lies with Ms. Mays," the inspector general's office said in a statement, investigators found "inattention and missed opportunities at several junctures, which, if handled differently, might have allowed earlier detection of Ms. Mays’ actions or possibly averted them altogether.” 

Mays has never explained why she killed her patients.

“There will never be closure,” said William Edge, whose father Robert Edge Sr., was the first veteran Mays murdered. “But I don’t feel cheated or anything. This is finally justice.”

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