Authorities in Southern Maryland have arrested two people in connection with two recent armed robberies of pharmacies in Charles and St. Mary's counties in which the suspects were after drugs, not money.
Christopher P. Peterson, 41, and Jennifer N. Batenga, 29, are accused of robbing the Reynold's Pharmacy in Leonardtown on May 13 of Oxycontin and Percocet, two painkilling drugs. Authorities said Peterson also attempted to steal the same painkillers May 7 from the CVS in the 2900 block of Festival Way in Waldorf.
Both suspects are being held without bond at the St. Mary's County Detention Center on armed robbery charges stemming from the Reynold's Pharmacy incident. Capt. Joseph C. Montminy of the Charles County Sheriff's Office said there is a warrant for Peterson's arrest in Charles. In the attempted robbery of the CVS in Waldorf, authorities said, Peterson jumped over the counter, confronted the pharmacist with a knife and demanded the drugs. The pharmacist told him the location of the pills, but Peterson was unable to find them, authorities said. He then assaulted the pharmacist with the knife and fled in a vehicle driven by someone else, authorities said.
Linda Mudd, a CVS assistant manager who did not see the attempted robbery, said the man chased the pharmacist outside at one point. She did not say who the pharmacist was or whether the person was injured. Another employee at the store said the pharmacist left the store after the incident.
Sgt. Bob Kiesel, the supervisor of the narcotics unit in Charles, said Oxycontin is a "very powerful and very addictive" painkiller. He said it is common for people to become dependent on it while using it for legal reasons, then start breaking the law to obtain more. On the street, a 40 milligram tablet of the prescription drug costs about $20, he said.
"You'll often see fraudulent prescriptions or persons going to doctors and complaining of injuries that don't exist so they can obtain Oxycontin," he said. "As for the actual robbery, we don't see that too often."