CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — “This is one of the worst crimes I’ve ever heard of,” said State Sen. William Ihlenfeld, (D) Ohio.
State Senator William Ihlenfeld is the former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia. He welcomes the federal grand jury investigation into 11 suspicious deaths of veterans at the VA Medical Center in Clarksburg. Three of those cases are considered homicides and could result in federal first-degree murder charges because the deaths happened on federal property.
“It is death penalty eligible. And so this person, whoever it might be, if convicted of this crime, could face the death penalty,” said State Sen. William Ihlenfeld, Former U.S. Attorney.
The veterans were being treated at the hospital and were given fatal, unauthorized injections of insulin even though most of the victims were not diabetic. Congress and the West Virginia House of Delegates Veterans Affairs Committee had requested detailed information on the cases but were turned down. Now, the grand jury is welcome news.
“But I will say, anytime a federal grand jury gets impaneled, or we’ve learned the federal prosecutor’s looking into anything, I think that’s an indication of the fact that the issue is being taken seriously,” said House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, (R) Clay.
Several of the families have hired lawyers to file civil lawsuits in the case, alleging wrongful death. Attorney Tony O’Dell is representing most of the victim’s relatives.
“We hope this results in an indictment and an arrest. But still, we want answers on the hospital side. People’s heads need to roll and they need to be accountable for what they did and didn’t do up there,” said Tony O’Dell, attorney for VA victim’s families.
So far six families have come forward publicly, identifying their loved one as a victim.
“As for when charges might be filed, the former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District tells me it could still be weeks if not months. He says investigators will want to ‘dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s,’ so this case is not thrown out on any legal technicality,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.