More charges filed against South St. Paul teacher


Melanie Sue Parkin

After having charges filed against her in connection with a Woodbury Walgreens robbery, Melanie Sue Parkin of South St. Paul is facing additional charges for similar robberies involving prescription painkillers.

Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced on Feb. 17, that Parkin, 36, has been charged with two counts of first-degree aggravated robbery in connection with two armed robberies of a West St. Paul Walgreens store. The robberies occurred on Dec. 12 and Jan. 14. 

Each count has a maximum sentence up to 20 years, and/or a fine between $10,500 and $35,000.

Parkin is a special education teacher in the South St. Paul Secondary Building. Superintendent Dave Webb said due to the Minnesota Government Data Practices, the South St. Paul School District could only confirm that criminal allegations have been made against Parkin, and she has been placed on paid administrative leave while the cases moves through the courts.

Parkin was first charged in connection with an armed robbery of a pharmacy counter at a Woodbury Walgreens at 2:50 a.m. Monday, Feb. 13. Police said she pointed an airsoft gun at a pharmacist and stole three bottles of the opiod painkiller Percocet.

According to the criminal complaint, Woodbury police stopped her vehicle as she drove away from the store and found the stolen narcotics in a Walgreens bag on the floor of the driver’s seat. She reportedly admitted to the robbery during interrogation, and was charged with one county of first-degree felony non-firearm aggravated robbery and one felony-count of a third-degree drug possession. 

 

The first offense

According to the Dakota County criminal complaint, on Dec. 12, 2016, around 5:20 a.m., officers were dispatched to a West St. Paul Walgreens on a report of an armed robbery that had just occurred. 

The suspect, later identified as Parkin, was described as a white female wearing a blue jacket, white gloves, dark glasses, and was about 5-feet 4-inches tall. She allegedly displayed a black handgun, robbed the pharmacy and left on foot.

A perimeter was established, but officers were unable to locate her. 

The complaint stated that the pharmacist said the woman walked up to the counter and pulled out a black handgun. He described it as a semi-automatic “with a hammer visible you could pull back.”

The robber allegedly pointed the gun at the pharmacist and stated she needed the prescription painkiller Oxycodone for her sick father and had no other way to get it. She then instructed the pharmacist to get the pills, and he placed a few bottles of Oxycodone into a bag. 

The pharmacist also put a dummy pill bottle with a tracking device in it, in the bag. After handing over the bag, the robber left and the pharmacist called police. 

According to the criminal complaint, attempts were made to track the dummy pill bottle but the GPS did not work.

 

Similar robbery

On Jan. 14 at about 3 a.m., officers were again dispatched to a Walgreens in West St. Paul on a report of an armed robbery that had just occurred. The robber was described as a woman wearing a black puffy winter coat, gray sweatpants and carrying a black handgun. The suspect was later identified as Parkin.

The pharmacist on duty told officers that a woman approached the service window and brandished a black semi-automatic handgun from her right coat pocket. 

She demanded “Oxy” and pointed the gun at the pharmacist, and told the pharmacist not to put a tracking device in the bag.

According to a criminal complaint, the pharmacist put 10 bottles of extended-release Oxycodone into a bag provided by the robber. The bottles could hold approximately 100 pills, but were not full.

A store manger was standing nearby and witnessed the robbery. 

The police report said surveillance was provided that shows Parkin entering the store and at the pharmacy counter. 

 

Crime alert

On Feb. 13, West St. Paul police were received a crime alert concerning a possible suspect in a number of pharmacy robberies around the area. 

A Woodbury investigator informed West St. Paul police that Parkin was in custody for robbing a Woodbury Walgreens.

The complaint stated that the jacket worn by the robber in one of the West St. Paul cases matched the jacket Parkin was wearing during the Woodbury robbery. 

West St. Paul police interviewed Parkin, who reportedly said she had significant health issues and had been taking painkillers for years following an accident in which she broke her spine. 

She allegedly identified herself in the surveillance images from the West St. Paul robberies. 

The complaint stated that Parkin said she got “Oxys” and a tracker, but threw the tracker away. When Parkin was asked about the January incident, she initially denied any involvement. However, when confronted with the fact she specifically stated she did not want a tracker device, she acknowledged she committed the January robbery, police said. 

Parkin described after one of the robberies she tried the extended-release pills, but they “did not work” and she threw them away. 

She said she consumed the other pills and did not sell them.

She also told authorities that she obtained the airsoft gun from one of her children. 

“This appears to be another crime of violence associated with a chemical addiction in our community, Backstrom said in a press release. 

Parkin’s bail was set at $75,000 without conditions or $50,000 with conditions. She has an omnibus hearing scheduled for March 16 in Hastings. 

 

Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienews.com.

 

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