Reta Mays: US care worker given life for murdering patients

image copyrightPolice image
image captionReta Mays suffered PTSD after serving in Iraq, her defence said

A former nursing assistant has been handed seven consecutive life sentences for the murder of elderly patients at a US military veterans' hospital.

Reta Mays, who worked at the facility in West Virginia, was given a further 20 years for trying to kill another.

She had already admitted at an earlier hearing to murdering the seven by injecting them with insulin at the Louis A Johnson Medical Center.

The judge described Mays, 46, as a "monster of the worst kind".

"You are the monster no-one sees coming," US District Judge Thomas S Kleeh said, adding that she would not be eligible for probation.

Mays' victims were aged between 81 and 96 and had served in the US forces during conflicts including World War Two and the wars in Korea and Vietnam.

Prosecutors said she unnecessarily injected them with insulin at the hospital in Clarksburg, which caused sudden hypoglycaemic events that led to the deaths.

At Tuesday's sentencing hearing, the court heard impact statements from relatives of the victims.

Norma Shaw, widow of air force veteran George Shaw, said in a recorded video message that he "became a man trapped in his own body" after Mays injected him with insulin. When he later died, the family initially believed his death was from natural causes.

"He was everything to me. In my heart I know I need to forgive her for what she did, and someday I will, but not today. I know that judgement will come one day," she said.

Robert Edge Jr, the son of Robert Edge Sr, who was Mays' first victim, said she had deprived nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren of his love.

"You murdered my father without cause or reason," he said. "As you hear my words, I want them to play in your mind over and over and over again until the day you die."

Mays wept as she addressed the court, saying: "There's no words I can say that can offer the families any comfort. I can only say I'm sorry for the pain I caused them and my family."

Mays' lawyer, Jay McCamic, told the court that his client had suffered mental health problems, including PTSD, from her time serving in the US military in Iraq between 2003-04.

The judge said that during the period of the killings, Mays had used her work computer to search the internet for "female serial killers". He said she had lied to investigators three times about her role in the deaths.

Judge Kleeh acknowledged she had wrestled with mental health issues but said that there was "no explanation" and "no justification" for Mays' actions.

More on this story