Fourth Possible Victim Identified In Suspicious VA Hospital Deaths
A fourth person has been named as a potential victim in the ongoing investigation of suspicious deaths at a Clarksburg, West Virginia veteran’s hospital.
Attorney Dino Colombo said Thursday an autopsy has revealed Army veteran Archie D. Edgell died in March 2018 as a result of an unneeded insulin injection.
“The autopsy shows that Mr. Edgell had multiple injection sites in the back of his arms and in his thighs,” Columbo said by phone.
Edgell, a Doddridge County native who lived in Barbour County later in life, died at the age of 85 at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center. The results of a December 2018 autopsy were made available in June 2019, Colombo said.
Edgell’s death follows a similar pattern seen in other suspicious deaths at the Clarksburg hospital in recent years. Elderly patients who were not terminally ill suddenly took a turn for the worst as a result of a hypoglycemic event.
At least two of those deaths — including Felix McDermott and George Shaw, Sr. — are being treated as homicides. A possible third victim, John Hallman, was identified last week.
Colombo noted there are multiple similarities between Edgell’s death and the other victims.
“[Edgell] was on the same floor as everybody else, 3-A, at the VA hospital in the same general time frame,” he said.
Colombo said Edgell’s autopsy shows the veteran had injection marks that were consistent with other victims.
“Number three — and, I think in this case, is the most telling thing — is the crash of his blood sugars for absolutely no reason,” Colombo said.
The FBI and the VA’s Inspector General have been investigating multiple suspicious deaths at the facility for more than a year.
Although federal officials have yet to release much information about the investigation, prosecutors said earlier this month they have identified a person of interest. They have said they are at “the beginning of the end” of their work on the case.
Colombo said he believes investigators working are meticulously to close the case and hopes they will soon announce charges. He also noted that insulin can be purchased over the counter at a pharmacy, further complicating the investigation.
“I know everybody would like to have this investigation resolved by tomorrow, or even yesterday. But those guys do a great job of uncovering every piece of evidence they can in putting this together,” Colombo said.
A spokesperson for the VA hospital said that a reported person of interest has been removed from their position.
“Immediately upon discovering these serious allegations, Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center leadership brought them to the attention of VA’s Inspector General while putting safeguards in place to ensure the safety of each and every one of our patients,” the VA hospital spokesperson said in an email to West Virginia Public Broadcasting.
Still yet, Colombo said the Edgell family is preparing to notify the government of their intent to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital.
“We have veterans that fought for our freedom and they were vulnerable people who couldn't protect themselves and who couldn't speak for themselves,” Colombo said. “They were counting on the VA to protect them and they failed miserably. We’re not going to let that go.”