U.S. Army veteran Felix McDermott was affectionally known by his grandchildren as “Snappy Pappy.” He would have seen his family grow even larger had he not been murdered at the VA in Clarksburg, West Virginia.
Reta Mays has never explained why she killed the seven veterans and assaulted an eighth with the intent to kill. She offered no hint of motive when she tearfully addressed the court Tuesday before the judge imposed seven consecutive life sentences.
“There are no words I can say that would offer the families any comfort,” Mays said. “I can only say I'm sorry for the pain I caused the families and my family. I don't ask for forgiveness because I don't think I could forgive anyone who did what I did.”
McDermott’s daughter-in-law, Melanie Proctor, said Mays took "the rights of his great children to ever meet him. There have been three born since his death. She has taken away any faith that we had in the VA system that my dad held in really high esteem.”
The former nurse's assistant pleaded guilty to killing McDermott and six other elderly war veterans by injecting them with lethal doses of insulin in 2017 and 2018.
“You preyed on them when they were at their weakest. For that you are a coward,” Proctor said.
Mays also killed Robert Edge, who served with the U.S. Navy in the Korean War before he was honorably discharged in 1956.
“He was a good man and an honest man, a good husband and a great dad. He was a good provider for our family,” Edge’s son, Robert Edge Jr., told the court in a videotaped statement. “You have deprived nine grandkids and eight great grandkids of ever knowing that love. I do not forgive you for what you have done. I would punish you with my own hands if it would ever do any good.”
The defense shifted some blame to the VA for tasking her to care for the men she killed while she simultaneously was a patient at the hospital.
"Why," defense attorney Jay McCamic said, “is not a question that can be answered.” He mentioned Mays' “well-documented mental health issues.”
U.S. District Judge Thomas Kleeh named each victim before he handed down the sentence.
“You murdered George Nelson Shaw, a retired senior master sergeant who served for 28 years in the U.S. Air Force,” Kleeh said. “Many, if not all, of these gentlemen would be considered part of the Greatest Generation.”
The judge said Mays made decisions “she was not entitled to make” when she injected the veterans with lethal doses of insulin. She “weaponized” the medication and used it “as an instrument of death.”
“You took the lives of these gentlemen into your own hands for reasons that will forever remain unclear,” Kleeh said.
Immediately before imposing the sentence, the judge called Mays “the worst kind” of monster.
"You’ve made liars out of anyone who has told their kids monsters don’t exist," Kleeh said.