Police: More allegations suspect stole painkillers

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Cynthia L. Koerner, 23, was arrested Monday as she dropped her child off at a day-care center.

A woman who admitted entering the homes of several Cape Girardeau senior citizens to steal drugs could face more charges.

The Cape Girardeau police arrested Cynthia L. Koerner, 23, Monday morning as she dropped her child off at a day-care center on Independence Street. She was wanted on a warrant revoking her bond and was due in court for sentencing later in the morning.

The arrest made her late for court. She had been free on two separate bonds of $15,000 and $5,000; Circuit Judge Benjamin Lewis raised that amount to a $100,000 cash-only bond when he ordered her arrest Thursday.

Since her case was highlighted in news reports last week, three more people have come forward alleging that Koerner entered their home. In one case, police Sgt. Barry Hovis said, police are seeking charges that she stole painkillers from a home in August.

Lewis on Monday sentenced Koerner to six years in prison. And she will be arraigned today in associate circuit court on charges that she stole drugs from an elderly woman Dec. 5.

The sentence handed down Monday covers charges against Koerner in two cases as well as the sentence in a similar 2003 crime in which probation was revoked.

Lewis ordered that Koerner be sent to a prison drug treatment program. He could decide in four months to release her on probation if he deems she has made sufficient progress in kicking her addictions.

Cape Girardeau police expressed frustration last week that Koerner had continued to steal drugs while out on bond. She was free pending sentencing after pleading guilty to invading two homes to steal drugs.

When discovered inside a home, Koerner would give excuses such as needing water for her car radiator or she was visiting to talk with the resident. In one case, she gained entry to a home by claiming she was a student conducting a survey.

Admitted to stealing

She admitted stealing 55 Darvocet pain killer pills in that instance, as well as a bottle of perfume. Darvocet is a narcotic related to codeine.

In the latest allegations against Koerner, only one person could identify specific items taken from their home while she was there, Hovis said. The others, while sure that Koerner had been at their residence, couldn't substantiate that a crime had been committed, he said.

Koerner eluded police through the weekend, Hovis said. But on Monday morning, officer David Tucker was on his way home after his shift when he saw her in the day-care parking lot.

"He was aware she was wanted and knew what she looked like from previous encounters," Hovis said.

Charges had not been filed in the latest case as of late Tuesday.

When arrested on charges stemming from the Dec. 5 theft, Koerner was able to put off arraignment by telling Associate Circuit Judge Gary Kamp that she was pregnant and checking into a hospital.

She did not mention the pregnancy Monday during her appearance before Lewis. She did say she was eager to get into the prison drug rehabilitation program to kick her addiction.

In the case still pending, Koerner could receive up to seven more years in prison. She could also be allowed to serve whatever sentence is given concurrently with her other sentences.

Additional time in prison would depend on what, if any, additional charges stem from the latest investigations by police.

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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