|9/12/2019 - Charleston attorney Tony O’Dell is now representing five families of veterans who died under suspicious circumstances at the Clarksburg Veterans Affairs facility.|
Eleven deaths are being questioned.
9/11/2019 - There is more troubling information concerning deaths at the VA Medical Center in Clarksburg. A third family has come forward saying their loved one died under suspicious circumstances. 87-year-old Navy Veteran John Hallman died in June of 2018. An attorney representing surviving relatives is outraged.
“They put their lives at risk for us. They served their country. And they deserve the very best and they didn’t get it. And it’s hard to imagine the disappointment and the betrayal that these families feel,” said Tony O’Dell, an attorney representing five families who had a loved one die at the VA.
While Hallman’s death has yet to be ruled a homicide, it does fit the known pattern in several other deaths. He died on floor 3-A of the hospital. He was given insulin injections, even though he did not need them. And his condition was either stable or actually improving. We know that Army Sergeant Felix McDermott met a similar fate, as did Air Force Veteran George Shaw. The attorney says the VA has not been helpful.
“I do think it’s a coverup. I think the VA itself had an obligation to contact these families when there was an issue of a suspicious death with their family member. And they didn’t contact any of them, and to this day they still haven’t contacted a single one,” said attorney Tony O’Dell.
The attorney is now representing five families but anticipates more will retain his services.
The Inspector-General of the Veterans Administration continues to investigate these suspicious deaths, but big questions remain. When will that report be completed, and made public?
Meanwhile, federal authorities are investigating allegations of sexual assaults at a Veterans Affairs hospital in West Virginia.
The VA inspector-general issued a statement this week saying the office is working with federal law enforcement to look into multiple assaults at the Beckley VA Medical Center.
9/6/2019 - Homicides inside the VA Hospital in Clarksburg will be the top priority next week when Congress returns to Washington. That’s the promise from West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin who serves on the Veterans Affairs Committee.
Meanwhile, a Charleston lawyer is now representing the families of four veterans who died at the hospital as a result of homicides. He says he’s also hearing from other families who lost loved ones at the VA under mysterious circumstances. There could be 10 or more victims.
“They should be doing a root-cause analysis on each one of these to find out what happened, or what could have happened. And the fact that we have this many deaths over this time period, is truly, almost as astounding as knowing someone was doing it willfully,” said Tony O’Dell, attorney for four VA victims’ families.
“I can assure you next week when we go back, that will be the first thing we take up in the VA Committee. I did not know… the most troubling thing to me was, they knew in February it was a homicide. We had to find out from the press. What are they trying to work?” said Sen. Joe Manchin, (D-West Virginia).
The FBI and the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia are also involved in the case.
9/4/2019 - MetroNews is reporting multiple families whose loved ones died under suspicious circumstances at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Clarksburg shared similar stories, according to a lawyer who has taken their cases.
“The picture is becoming more clear to us,” said Charleston lawyer Tony O’Dell. “The deaths all came from one floor. Every victim so far has been on 3A.
“They weren’t terminal and all of a sudden they took a turn for the worse, and their blood sugars show this dramatic decrease.”
Multiple officials have confirmed the FBI and the Office of Inspector General for the Veterans Administration are investigating the deaths.
O’Dell, the attorney, has spoken with five additional families of veterans who died suspiciously. The families are considering his legal representation.
9/2/2019 - Federal prosecutor Bill Powell says his office will make greater efforts to inform victims’ families about an investigation into deaths at the Veterans Administration hospital in Clarksburg.
Powell says the investigation of up to 10 deaths under mysterious circumstances is close to being finished.
“We’re not at the beginning of the beginning. We’re at the beginning of the end,” Powell, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, said Monday.
“We’re moving as rapidly as we can conceivably move to make sure we get it right.”
8/31/2019 - The Clarksburg VA facility has been under public scrutiny for the past week after it was revealed that two retired U.S. service members died in the hospital, victims of homicide. Army Sergeant Felix McDermott and Air Force veteran George Shaw, Senior, both died in April of last year.
Each was given a fatal insulin injection even though neither man was a diabetic. The legislature’s Veterans and Military Affairs Committees may hold fact-finding hearings. Delegate Jim Bulter is a Marine Corps veteran.
“Well I think we should definitely have hearings and try to get to the botton of what their procedures are so we can prevent this from happening again. I’ve spoken to the Chairman Buck Jennings and he’s actually going to go in person. He lives pretty close to Clarksburg and he’s going to talk with the administrators there,” said Del. Jim Butler, Vice Chair, (R) Mason – Veterans Committee.
The state’s Congressional delegation has been frustrated by the lack of information provided by the VA’s Office of Inspector General in this case. Attorney Mike Woelfel, serves in the West Virginia State Senate.
“I just think that it’s outrageous that we’re here, well after a year, and there’s not been an arrest made,” said State Sen. Mike Woelfel, (D) Cabell.
Even VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, who was in West Virginia in May while the investigation was underway, complained that he’s gotten more information from the media in this case, than from his own Inspector General.
8/30/2019 - USA Today is reporting that a second homicide has been confirmed at the VA medical center in Clarksburg.
The newspaper said the family of George Nelson Shaw Sr., who live on a farm in rural West Virginia, learned last month from investigators that the veteran’s death was ruled a homicide.
A lawyer for one of the victims told media Thursday that the FBI is investigating.
Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Felix Kirk McDermott, a Vietnam veteran and a patient at the Clarksburg medical center from Ritchie County, died April 9, 2018, after he was given a dose of insulin and his death had been ruled a homicide.
A civil complaint filed by a Charleston law firm with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said nine or 10 other deaths also are suspected homicides.
Few details have been made public regarding this disturbing story.
According to a statement by VA Inspector General Michael J. Missal, the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General are working with federal law enforcement partners to investigate the "allegations of potential wrongdoing resulting in patient deaths at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center."
The office did not comment further on the activity, however, they assure that the VA OIG works to identify urgently address allegations related to patient safety.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he spoke with officials Monday to discuss an investigation into 11 suspicious deaths at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg and they confirmed the person of interest is no longer in contact with veterans at the facility.
A complaint also claims that nine or 10 patients at the medical center died unexpectedly as a result of low blood sugar. Each had received a large injection of insulin in the abdomen that “was neither ordered by a doctor or medically necessary,” the complaint said.
8/23/2019 - The body of a retired Army sergeant who died while in the care of the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg has been exhumed, and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System has ruled it a homicide.
About 10 other deaths at the Medical Center are suspicious and are believed to have occurred in the same manner.
The news was first reported by a WV news website WV NEWS.
That's according to a notice of claim filed with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs this week by attorney Tony O'Dell of the Charleston law firm Tiano O'Dell PLLC.
If the armed forces medical examiner is correct, the military veteran "was murdered while he was in the care and custody of the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center despite the VAMC being on notice of the previous wrongful injections," wrote O'Dell, who filed the claim.
The claim also asserts that VA investigators "have a person of interest in the deaths of the multiple VAMC patients," but that person's name hasn't been shared with O'Dell and his client.
Jonathan Kott, communications director for U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kelley Moore, press secretary for U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said their offices had immediately begun seeking answers on the matter from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Retired Army Sgt. Felix Kirk McDermott, 82, of Ellenboro, died April 9, 2018, at the Medical Center.
The VA Office of the Inspector General ordered McDermott's remains exhumed Oct. 23, 2018, and they were sent to Dover Air Force Base for an autopsy "because of the suspicious manner of Mr. McDermott's death," O'Dell wrote in the claim filed on behalf of Melanie Proctor, McDermott's daughter, who lives in Ellenboro and is administrator of her father's estate.
"During its investigation, VA investigators advised Melanie Proctor ... that there was evidence that nine or ten other patients of the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center had been wrongfully injected with insulin in their abdomen, thereby causing their deaths," O'Dell wrote. "Ms. Proctor was further advised that her father was one of the last known victims."
The autopsy "confirmed investigators' suspicions that Ret. Army Sgt. McDermott had received an exogenous insulin shot in the left side of his abdomen," the claim states. "That finding was consistent with the clinical history of profound hypoglycemic event that occurred the morning of April 9, 2018.
"The autopsy report confirmed that Ret. Army Sgt. McDermott was not a diabetic and had no history of oral hypoglycemic use or previous insulin administration," O'Dell wrote. "The autopsy report also confirmed there were no hospital orders for the administration of insulin. The autopsy report noted that despite Ret. Army Sgt. McDermott's pre-existing health issues, he was showing clear improvement in his medical condition when he was negligently, wrongfully, or intentionally injected with insulin."
Strangely, the claim contends that employees at the Medical Center "were aware of each of the unexpected and suspicious deaths," with no criminal investigation until now.
The claim, which serves as an official six-month notice of a coming lawsuit, seeks monetary damages of $1 million for personal injury and $5 million for wrongful death, as well as funeral expenses and other costs.
O'Dell said his law office is currently seeking out the families of the other patients who may have died the same way.
McDermott, who also had lived in Ruffs Dale, Pennsylvania, retired as a sergeant after a 20-year career in the Army, during which he was deployed to Vietnam, then served in the Pennsylvania National Guard and also worked as a truck driver.