Nursing Assistant Sentenced for Murdering Patients

Both scientific and circumstantial evidence, including input from outside medical experts, showed Mays’ injection of insulin led to the patients’ deaths.

“The forensic pathologist not only looked at the insulin injection and the remnants of insulin to help determine the cause of death but it was also just as important for us to rule out other causes for the low sugar readings, especially for the non-diabetic patients,” said VA OIG Special Agent Keith Vereb. “We did this to determine that these veterans were, in fact, murdered by Reta Mays.”

When Mays was alone with patients, she took insulin from the hospital’s medication area and injected it into the men for no medical reason. Even if there had been a reason, nursing assistants are not authorized to give medication. Their blood sugar dropped quickly, leading to their deaths.

Mays pleaded guilty to murder charges in July 2020, and in May 2021, she was sentenced to life in prison.

“It was a really old-school investigation—a lot of interviews, a lot of digging through records, a lot of following up on leads, and help from a group of medical experts and sources,” Archibald explained.

Investigators never learned a clear motive for such a depraved crime.

“It’s unfathomable to me, but it seemed like control. She wanted to have control over these really vulnerable people,” Archibald said.

Archibald said the investigative team hopes the sentence, along with the safeguards the VA has added to prevent similar tragedies, will offer some comfort to the patients’ families.

“I hope they will be able to heal and focus on the good memories they have with these veterans,” she said. “This was a big case and a difficult one. I don’t know if I’ll ever have another case in my career that means so much.”