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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Charges filed for pharmacy robbery, possible meth lab uncovered

Monday, November 26, 2012

A suspect believed to be involved in the robbery of Red Cross Pharmacy, located at 941 S. Cherokee Dr., has been arrested and charged with several felonies.

Christopher Edward Whittom, 30, was charged with nine felony counts, including class A felony first-degree pharmacy robbery, three counts of class B felony possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, class A felony manufacture or attempt to manufacture more than five grams of marijuana in a residence with a child present, class C felony possession of a controlled substance, class D felony unlawful use of drug paraphernalia and class D felony possession of methamphetamine precursor drugs.

The range of punishment if convicted of the robbery is 10-30 years or life in the Department of Corrections.

The pharmacy was robbed shortly after 8:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 23, when an employee was approached while unlocking the door, according to the probable cause statement. The employee apparently attempted to shut the door but "was startled when (the suspect) produced what appeared to be a black colored semi-automatic handgun," the statement read.

The statement indicates that once inside, the suspect led the employee to a shelf where several pseudoephedrine products were located, and 13 boxes were placed in a bag. The employee stated the suspect asked where the Oxycontin and Morphine patches were located, but she indicated they weren't in the store. The suspect apparently took several "cells" from a Parata machine including Alprazolam tablets, Biazepam tablets, and numerous Acetaminophen and Hydrocodone Bitartrate tablets before he left on foot.

During the course of the investigation officers viewed surveillance video from surrounding businesses and spoke with several witnesses, according to the Marshall Police Department. Shoe impressions were also found when officers retraced the suspect's path, according to the probable cause statement.

Whittom was arrested at his temporary place of residence, the 500 block of Pinewood Circle in Marshall, where officers observed several products they believed were components of a methamphetamine lab.

Whittom's bond is set at $200,000 cash only.

His arrest wasn't the only one made, however, as the prosecuting attorney also charged Holly A. G. Wigington, 23, with eight felony charges, including the class A felony manufacture or attempt to manufacture more than five grams of marijuana in a residence with a child present, four counts of class C felony possession of a controlled substance, class D felony unlawful use of drug paraphernalia, class D felony possession of methamphetamine precursor drugs.

According to the probable cause statement, her residence -- where Whittom was also residing -- contained a bottle of drain cleaner containing lye, packages for cold packs containing ammonium nitrate, bottles containing a white-colored substance and chunks of lithium strips.

After obtaining a search warrant, officers located multiple items such as a battery, spoons, plastic bags, pliers and wire cutters with residue, and multiple other products according to the report. Wigington's bond is set at $100,000 cash only.

Wigington's 2-year-old daughter was in the home when officers arrived. Subsequently, both suspects were charged with the class C felony of endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree.

While being held at the Marshall Police Department jail late Friday afternoon, Whittom attempted to hang himself with his shirt, according to Police Chief Mike Donnell.

Saline County Ambulance was dispatched to the scene, but Donnell said Whittom was not seriously hurt in the incident. Whittom currently is in custody at the Saline County Jail.

Both are scheduled for court appearances this week.

Scott Hartwig, CEO and co-owner of Red Cross Pharmacies, commended the employee for her reaction, stating she followed the appropriate protocol and everyone went home safely.

"When an unfortunate event like this occurs, safety is the main concern," he said. "Our employee handled the situation well. She maintained her composure."

Hartwig noted the company will be pressing charges and expects those involved to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. He also added police officers' quick response didn't go unnoticed.

"Marshall Police Department needs to be commended," he said. "I want to express my appreciation for their great investigative work."

Contact Sarah Reed at
sreed@marshallnews.com

Editor's note: Charges contained in reports provided by law enforcement officials are not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting charges must be presented before a jury, whose duty is to determine if the accused is guilty or not guilty of the charges.