Bedford VA violated federal law and had to look for a missing veterinarian who was later found dead by a federal supervisor

“Mr. White’s disappearance from the VA, the agency that is required by federal law to provide protection for all persons on his property, has not been taken. “

Investigators found that former VA police chief Shawn Kelley did not order a substantial search — he posted a photo of White on the department bulletin board and sent an e-mail to officers. He also waited nearly two weeks to respond to a request from Bedford city police to search for police dogs in White. That search was never conducted.

Kelley resigned while the OIG investigation was under way. He interrupted his interview with investigators and later gave up, due to health problems, said someone familiar with the situation. Kelley could not be reached for comment.

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan conducted his own investigation into White’s death and, although it found major failures in the White search, its December 2020 report did not recommend a criminal charge against anyone.

White, 62, was not ill, but lived in a VA-owned building that had been relocated to homeless homeless veterans by Caritas Communities. According to a Caritas spokesman, he has lived in Building 5 in the Bedford Veterans neighborhood since early 2020.

As a resident, White was free to go and come, but Caritas employees on the site kept an eye on residents, most of whom are under medical conditions and drug issues. And the little-used emergency star in the place where it was found would have been an unusual choice for leaving the building, as opening the door downstairs would sound the alarm.

Another White resident was spotted on June 12; he found the same baseball cap, Red Sox jersey, and clothes he last wore in early May, when he first disappeared. “Although he was using a passenger after the operation and could not get away, no one looked at the patio, only 60 meters from his room.

After it was discovered in June, both the VA Communities and Caritas each claimed that they were not responsible for the columns.

VA police said they did not return to White because he was a resident, not sick. But the Inspector General said the VA is responsible for the safety of everyone on the VA campus. The OIG report said its lease with Caritas also made it clear that the stairwells are the responsibility of the VA.

VA police searched the building at least daily but were ordered to stop Kelly in February, three months before White disappeared. The OIG found that the police chief’s order was contrary to federal law and VA law enforcement policies, which require agency agencies to search VA property.

An official told OIG investigators that, if VA police had searched building 5 at the time of his disappearance, he believed they would find Mr. White “perfect,” and that he would be found very soon, the report said.

The cleaners for the VA were working under the same false deception of the police, the report said, and therefore did not clean the stairs.

“The decision, misinformation, and lack of oversight also did not allow anyone in the VA to meet with Mr. White for a month after he disappeared through routine searches or cleaning of the emergency exit star where his body was found,” Smith wrote. .

When VA officials in Washington agreed to implement the OIG’s proposed changes, the VA president in New England defended the agency’s response.

In comments added to the report, Ryan Lilly, director of VA facilities in New England, said that although it was “unfortunate” that no search had been made on the platforms, it recommended “an intellectual study of the situation” and the city police believed made Caritas search the building.

People living in the building resemble private citizens living in their own apartments so there is a “significant difference” in the VA police of private areas, he wrote.

The OIG does not send the case to any criminal authorities, but its investigation makes national changes in the way that the VA loses the cases of missing persons as well as builds rents with private companies.

VA local police chiefs can no longer decide which buildings they are patrolling. They need to look for someone who is missing from a VA institution.

VA facilities that have rented space on their property must appoint someone to monitor their rents to ensure that responsibilities are clearly defined.

The OIG conducted an investigation last year at the request of a Massachusetts delegation that included representatives Seth Mouton, Lori Trahan, and Katherine Clark, as well as Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren.

Moulton, who receives medical care at Bedford VA, said: “American veterans deserve the best health care in the world. Mr. White’s care was not close. to serve. “

In a statement by e-mail, Warren said: “The results of these tragic investigations show that serious errors have been made in Mr White’s case, and that there are ongoing problems at VA’s nursing home in Bedford. and VA should implement the proposed changes at Bedford to keep our assets safe, ”she said.


Andrea Estes can be reached at andrea.estes@globe.com.