CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – West Virginia politicians are calling for answers after a Vietnam veteran’s death at a VA hospital was ruled a homicide. WOWK 13 News got a chance to sit down and talk with Senator Joe Manchin about the investigation.
Below is the transcription of the interview:
Mark Curtis: Where are we in terms with this investigation?
Senator Joe Manchin: Well let me give you some background on it Mark as on July 6th of last year we were notified, the whole delegation. Myself, Senator Capito, all of us that there was a problem and they were on top of it. They were working on this thing and have secured everything to make sure the VA patients were protected. We’ve kept updates, I sent a letter telling them we expected this to be done, basically an investigation to be done and thoroughly done and quickly as possible. Well we’re here a year later and we just found out last week and now there is a homicide tied to the concerns they had way back when.
Mark Curtis: and it may not be just one homicide. We may be talking nine or ten – there’s a pattern of suspicious behavior here so what happens next? You call for a separate investigation?
Senator Joe Manchin: It’s a horrible situation and I’m putting out another letter out today and basically this is ridiculous for the inspector general. One year we should have something defiant. It’s just not right for the families to not have closure and know exactly what happened. So Mr. McDermott, his family, basically pursued the issued. He was basically exhumed and it was tested and they found out it was homicide.
Mark Curtis: He was not diabetic yet. He was injected in his abdomen with insulin. We understand that some of these other deaths happened the same way, again, we’re talking 9 to 10 more patients. I mean, nothing short of shocking.
Senator Joe Manchin: I spoke to secretary Wilkie whose the Secretary of the VA – veterans and tremendous responsibilities he has but tremendous amount of people under him talked to Dr. Snider who is head of the Clarksburg VA. They’ve assured me that everything has been done. The person of interest, they have a person of interest, they’ve identified. That person of interest has no contact whatsoever with the VA – VA patients. So they’ve secured their medical supplies and how they would have gotten – now what I didn’t understand Mark is that any individual can go to any pharmacy and buy insulin and get a needle to inject it. So we don’t know if that came – we just don’t know and I wanna know.
Mark Curtis: There is an ongoing criminal investigation and this has now made national news, it was on CBS Evening News last night. Every news network all over the country is coming here to do this story. So does that mean you’re gonna call for a congressional investigation? Does there need to be oversight on this?
Senator Joe Manchin: Well there needs to be and the DOJ needs to get involved immediately if they’re not already involved. When homicide was determined, the DOJ should have jumped. The FBI and everybody should have jumped in. That’s what we’re finding out now. Who’s involved, who’s taking it over because the inspector general had over one year and not given any of their findings yet. So the family, this is just a horrible horrible tragedy to the people who have sacrificed their lives for us and we’re not there to protect them.
Mark Curtis: Let me mention his name again. U.S. Army Sgt. Felix Kirk McDermott. He died at the age of 82. We thank him for his service to this country.
Senator Joe Manchin: Absolutely.
Mark Curtis: “Some other families are contacting your office and some contacting us and we’re gonna hear more names but it is important we keep the names of these people in the news and get to the bottom of what happened. “
Senator Joe Manchin: We’re gonna stay on top of them Mark, as quickly as possible get this resolved into finding – getting answers to the families who deserve it. It’s absolutely horrible.