A federal investigation is taking place at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, West Virginia after evidence suggested potential wrongdoing in the deaths of 11 patients. So far, two of the deaths have been ruled homicides and both are the subjects of lawsuits.
In April 2018, Felix Kirk McDermott, 82, passed away just 24 hours before Georgie Nelson Shaw Sr., an 81-year-old Army veteran. Both bodies were exhumed during the winter months in 2018 and it was discovered that neither died from natural causes. Investigators learned both died from unnecessary insulin injections.
The story made headlines in August 2019 after the Clarksburg Exponent Telegram reported on McDermott’s death being ruled a homicide after the completed autopsy. McDermott’s family have hired Charleston attorney Tony O’Dell and filed a notice of claim. They are in the early stages of filing a lawsuit with Veterans Affairs. According to the court filing, VA investigators told McDermott’s daughter that nine or 10 of the suspicious patient deaths happened after insulin was wrongfully injected into their abdomens. Shaw’s family also plans on filing a lawsuit.
A medical and criminal investigation opened in June 2018 after nine inpatients at the hospital had been diagnosed with low blood sugar of unclear cause in the previous nine months. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) was informed about the investigation the following month. Manchin hopes to bring closure to the victims’ families as soon as possible: “We need answers; the families need answers. I’ve spoken to the families. We need to bring this to a closure.”
According to The Washington Post, the United States Attorney for the North District of West Virginia confirmed the ongoing federal criminal investigation into the deaths of the other nine patients at the hospital, but names of potential victims have not been released.
Senator Manchin told reporters that a person of interest is connected to the death, but a name has not been made clear. According to a spokesman from the hospital, the investigation does not involve anyone who is still an employee. The Inspector General at the Department of Veterans Affairs is conducting the investigation in collaboration with other federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI.
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