Vets angry over mail tampering

Friday, January 7, 2011
Marshall County Veterans Service Officer Billy Hill holds a plastic envelope that he received in the mail for medicine he gets from the Veterans Administration and he has concluded that the package county officials say was opened before delivery to another vet was like his package.

The Petersburg Post Office letter carrier -- a prime suspect in a federal investigation into mail theft -- is in "a non-pay status," according to a Postal Service spokeswoman and Marshall County's Veterans Service officer says vets are angry.

"I've had some guys come in here this morning about someone stealing a veteran's medicine," Veterans Service Officer Billy Hill said Wednesday after a report came out about medicine being substituted in a VA medical center pharmacy package before delivery through the mail.

Some of the vets' statements are not publishable. It's clear they're unhappy.

Prescription drugs were replaced in the VA patient's package with other pills that were apparently over-the-counter medicine.

Federal investigators, Marshall County lawmen and Petersburg Police searched the Brown Shop Road residence of Michael Murdock, the letter carrier whose route included a veteran receiving medicine. Florescent spray was applied to the contents of the package before it was mailed. It was found on Murdock, according to one of the investigators. No state charge arrest had been made in Marshall County, according to a check with the Sheriff's Department here Wednesday and a press release from Sheriff Norman Dalton on Tuesday.

Attempts to reach Murdock were unsuccessful with three calls to his home phone on two days this week.

Postal Service spokeswoman Beth Barnett was contacted this week about Murdock and she reported that he is in "a non-pay status."

"It's a sad situation," Hill said. "The Postal Service is one of our trusted entities. You would think that the Postal Service carriers would have more compassion for the veterans."

As a veteran with access to continued medical care from the Veterans Administration, Hill receives medication through the mail and on Wednesday, he displayed the empty package he received recently to provide an idea on the kind of packaging that's used.

"You know this comes from the VA," he said. "It sticks out like a sore thumb."

The return address is a chief indicator. Other aspects of the package might also reflect such a source, but other medical supply services use similar packaging.

Tribune staff writer Karen Hall contributed to this report.