The second woman also went home and, alone, took a single tablet. She was not found until hours later, slumped at the edge of her bed, when her daughter arrived home just after 11 p.m. “She was cold and stiff,” the daughter said recently in an interview, barely audible as she described the memory, “and obviously gone.”
The pills the women took, police say, were stamped as “Percocet,” a brand-name pain medication. But they were fake and contained fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin. And that, in the eyes of Montgomery County police, who have arrested and charged him, renders the alleged actions by Arrington a homicide.
The 47-year-old Rockville resident is being held in jail without bond, charged with one count of second-degree murder in the death of Theresa Mcintire on the basis of what investigators described as Arrington’s “extreme depraved indifference to human life.” Arrington also faces charges of distribution of fentanyl.
He is due in court again Nov. 22. It is not clear from court records whether he has retained an attorney. A woman who on Tuesday answered a phone number listed for someone who appears to be a relative of Arrington’s declined to comment on the case.
For several years, prosecutors in Maryland have tried to build homicide cases against drug dealers in cases where the dealers’ customers have fatally overdosed. Judges have taken a mixed view of that approach, with Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals overturning a manslaughter conviction. But that opinion was reversed in a 60-page opinion in June from the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.
“It was nearly impossible to bring forth these cases before that Court of Appeals opinion,” said John McCarthy, the top prosecutor in Montgomery County, while declining to discuss the Arrington case specifically.
For prosecutors, the challenge comes in connecting two elements: that the dealer knew he was selling a lethal product and that the victim died of using that particular substance. “It’s a double linkage,” said Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger.
The June opinion sets fairly stringent standards for establishing the linkage, Shellenberger said, but it did affirm the practice. He said that prosecutors could take the same reasoning in the opinion used for manslaughter, which requires a grossly negligent act, to try to file an enhanced charge of second-degree murder.
“At least we now have guidance on what the standards are,” Shellenberger said.
In the Montgomery County case, investigators appear to have at least one witness saying that Arrington sold a bogus Percocet pill to Mcintire on the day she died, according to court filings. Court papers attribute her death to “the combined effects” of fentanyl, cocaine and alcohol.
The case began for county police the night of Aug. 19 when officers were called by Mcintire’s daughter to their home in Germantown.
The daughter — who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear for her safety — had arrived home and found the light on in her mother’s bedroom, visible under the closed door. Her mother’s cat, Red, also was making a lot of noise. The daughter entered the room to check on her mother.
Her mother was slouched and partially resting on a set of steps that Red used to climb into the bed, according to the daughter and to Tracey Plummer, one of Theresa Mcintire’s three sisters.
The tablet she took had such an immediate effect, Plummer said, that her sister couldn’t call for help. “I don’t think Theresa had a chance,” Plummer said.
She and her sisters grew up in the Derwood section of Montgomery County. Theresa Mcintire also has a teenage son.
“Theresa’s life was centered on those kids. They were her focus,” Plummer said.
Her sister tended bar for years at restaurants in Germantown. She did not have health insurance, according to Plummer, and sometimes bought pills to manage the effects of arthritis and back pain after an epidural accident during childbirth.
“My sister wouldn’t have bought anything she didn’t think was legit. She trusted him,” Plummer said of Arrington. “That trust got her killed.”
As investigators probed the death, they learned that Mcintire had purchased a single pill from Arrington, according to findings they filed in a court affidavit. That led them to another woman, who had allegedly bought five pills from Arrington the same day.
That woman told detectives that she had confronted Arrington, whom she said she knew as “Pete,” after recovering from her overdose and after learning what had happened to Mcintire — telling investigators, they wrote in court records, that, “he was clearly upset and wanted to avoid any conversation of Mcintire’s death.”told detectives that she had confronted Arrington after recovering from her overdose and after learning what had happened to Mcintire — telling investigators, they wrote in court records, that “he was clearly upset and wanted to avoid any conversation of Mcintire’s death.”
Of the four remaining pills, the woman returned three to Arrington for the original $100 purchase price, police said. She kept the last pill, which detectives were able to obtain.
Testing showed it contained fentanyl but no trace of oxycodone and acetaminophen, the two active ingredients in Percocet, according to investigators.