South St. Paul teacher charged with Walgreens robbery

Melanie Parkin

Parkin accused to stealing prescription painkillers

Melanie Sue Parkin, 36, of South St. Paul has been charged in connection with a robbery at a Woodbury Walgreens pharmacy counter Monday, Feb. 13.  

She is charged with one count of first-degree felony non-firearm aggravated robbery, which if convicted carries a maximum sentence of 20 years and $35,000 fine. 

She is also charged with one felony count of a third-degree drug possession, which has a maximum sentence of 20 years and $250,000 fine for a first conviction for a controlled substance.

On the South St. Paul Public Schools website, Parkin is listed as a special education teacher in the secondary building. 

Superintendent Dave Webb said due to the Minnesota Government Data Practices, the district could only confirm that criminal allegations have been made against Parkin, and she has been placed on paid administrative leave while the case moves through the courts.

According to a Washington County criminal complaint, around 2:50 a.m. Feb. 13, Woodbury police officers were dispatched to the Walgreens at 1965 Donegal Drive on a report of a robbery. 

Dispatchers informed police squads that a white female wearing sunglasses, a dark-colored baseball hat and a puffy coat displayed a handgun at a pharmacist. The woman reportedly stole three bottles of Percocet, which she placed in a Walgreens bag and fled the store. 

As an officer responded to the area and neared the intersection of Radio Drive and Donegal Drive, he observed a black SUV waiting to make a lefthand turn. 

The officer saw a female driver look at him nervously and quickly look straight ahead. The vehicle appeared to be traveling from the area of Walgreens, according to the complaint. 

The officer noticed the vehicle’s tabs were expired and stopped the vehicle. 

The driver was identified as Parkin. When asked where she was coming from she responded, “Over there,” and when asked again she said, “Walgreens.”

The report said Parkin was instructed to put the vehicle in park, and officers observed she appeared to hesitate, as if contemplating fleeing the scene, but then she complied.

Officers said they observed a large bag of pills on the driver’s side floorboard, near where Parkin was sitting. As she stepped out of the vehicle, they asked her what she had been doing that night.

According to the complaint, Parkin stated she “took the pills from Walgreens.” She was asked where the weapon was, and she replied it was “only an airsoft gun.”

The complaint states that in total officers counted 1,413 pills of Percocet in several pill bottles and scattered loose inside the Walgreen’s bag. Officers also found a small vial with a screw top in her right front jeans pocket that contained four pills that were identified as OxyContin.

Parkin was transported to the Woodbury Police Department where she agreed to speak with investigators.

According to the complaint, during interrogation Parkin stated she has been on pain medication for four years since breaking her spine in an accident. 

She said she had been prescribed either Percocet or OxyContin in the past. She reportedly told officers if she stops taking the medication she goes through withdrawals, and currently does not have a valid prescription.

As she ran out of refills, she went to the Woodbury Walgreens to obtain medication. She chose this Walgreens because it was far from her home, and she would not be recognized. 

Parkin stated when she left her South St. Paul home, she grabbed the airsoft gun, which she described as a little black handgun.

When she arrived at the Woodbury Walgreens, she walked in through the main entrance and had the gun in a coat pocket. She told police she walked straight to the pharmacy counter. 

She stated she was approximately three to four feet from the pharmacist and took her airsoft gun out of her jacket.

She reportedly asked the pharmacist, “Can I have Percocet, please?” The pharmacist replied, “Percocet,” and Parkin replied, “Yes please. Don’t give me the tracker, please.” Parkin reportedly explained she observed on TV that some pharmacists give a tracker to the thief in order to aid in apprehension.

Parkin allegedly said the pharmacist handed her one large bottle of Percocet and turned around to get five or six more, but she told the pharmacist, “That’s too much,” and took two more bottles, and then she ran out of the store because she was scared. 

When questioned about similar thefts of prescription painkillers that had occurred at area pharmacies, Parkin reportedly asked for a lawyer and the interrogation ended. 

She is being held at the Washington County Jail, and her first court appearance had not been scheduled before press time.


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