Person of interest charged in weekend overdoses of cocaine, painkiller
Posted December 8, 2014
Pittsboro, N.C. — 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.