Local News

Person of interest charged in weekend overdoses of cocaine, painkiller

Posted December 8, 2014

— Investigators said Monday evening that they have arrested a person of interest in connection with 14 reported cases of cocaine overdose in Chatham County over the weekend.

Meanwhile, authorities were still trying to find the source of what they believe to be a batch of cocaine cut with a highly potent painkiller called fentanyl. Three people died from the combination, and 11 others were hospitalized.

"Our concern is that there may be more drugs out there and more deaths," Chatham County Chief Deputy Mike Roberson said Saturday, when the first cases were reported.

Investigators haven't released other details other than to say the people were sickened within an hour of using cocaine and that the cases were reported Siler City and the Bear Creek area of Chatham County.

Also unclear is where the drugs were consumed. Authorities say the investigation is ongoing.

Edwin Maurice Pennix, 38, of Colonial Park Road, Siler City, was jailed Sunday under a $260,000 secured bond on one felony count each of sale and delivery of cocaine, sale and delivery of marijuana and conspiracy to sell and deliver cocaine.

Lab results on samples of the drugs showed they tested positive for fentanyl, a narcotic commonly used to manage chronic pain. It's also used as a recreational drug because of its effects, which include drowsiness, lightheadedness and feelings of euphoria.

Authorities have identified those who died as Michael Currie, 42, of Bear Creek, Randal Welch, 24, of Franklinville, and Perry Saunders, 23, of Aurora, Missouri.

Their bodies have been taken to the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for autopsies, investigators said.

The names and conditions of those being treated at local hospitals have not been released.

Anyone with information that can help investigators is asked to contact the Chatham County Sheriff's Office at 919-545-8139.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • disgusted2010 Dec 9, 2014

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    The Chatham County Magistrates are required to set bonds based on guidelines set by the resident superior court judge. Place the blame where it belongs.

  • Trevor Dec 9, 2014

    The Chatham County Magistrate is not known for placing high bonds on alleged offenders.

  • jimcricket15 Dec 9, 2014

    The charges should include murder. He killed three people. As to more bad drugs being out there, well folks stop using drugs. I have no sympathy for people that destroy themselves with drugs.

  • Ven Dec 9, 2014

    well he was charged with 1dmurder a few years back, though ended up at manslaughter. While I don't advocate drug use, it's sad these people died, esp for their families. Big question - did he knowingly (purposely cut with) the drugs were laced or not?

  • wlbbjb Dec 9, 2014

    His bond should be a whole lot higher. He will be safer if he stays in jail. The people who supplied him will probably try to silence him. I hope he has the good sense to tell the detectives who his supplier is before more people die. Then again he may have been involved in the manufacturing of this batch. At any rate, why would anyone think its cool to do drugs?

  • Brian Hill Dec 9, 2014
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    (b) A murder other than described in subsection (a) of this section or in G.S. 14-23.2 shall be deemed second degree murder. Any person who commits second degree murder shall be punished as a Class B1 felon, except that a person who commits second degree murder shall be punished as a Class B2 felon in either of the following circumstances:

    (1) The malice necessary to prove second degree murder is based on an inherently dangerous act or omission, done in such a reckless and wanton manner as to manifest a mind utterly without regard for human life and social duty and deliberately bent on mischief.

    (2) The murder is one that was proximately caused by the unlawful distribution of opium or any synthetic or natural salt, compound, derivative, or preparation of opium, or cocaine or other substance described in G.S. 90-90(1)d., or methamphetamine, and the ingestion of such substance caused the death of the user.

  • SAY 'WHAT" ONE MORE TIME! Dec 9, 2014

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    Bond is based on the crime and past criminal record. He didn't intend to kill people. Bond is meant to ensure a court appearance, nothing more

  • KittenClaws Dec 9, 2014

    "need to remember that by doing drugs, they were taking their lives into their own hands."

    This was my thought also. I've always wondered the thought process behind someone taking illegal drugs. At what point does someone think "Hmmm. Yeah. I think I might want to give that a try to see what happens. I might like it even though I could get hooked and ruin my life or die...yeah I think I'll do that." There is no way anyone over the age of 10 doesn't know that drugs can and will kill you.

  • Paladin2 Dec 9, 2014

    Wake up people, you are a fool if you trust your life to a vermin drug dealer. Do you actually think they have your health and well being on their agenda as they recklessly handle your drugs.

  • babylaceycarpenter Dec 8, 2014

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    The bond could be larger if he was being charged with 1st degree murder. Most likely, the dealer had no intention of killing, only making money. If this guy is the one who actually "cut" the cocaine, maybe there is a chance for criminally negligent homicide. They may be able to show depraved indifference, whenever they catch up with whoever did "cut" this drug. Then he could be charged with 2nd degree murder.