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Johnson City pharmacist arrested on attempted murder charge

By Kyle Benjamin, kbenjamin@wcyb.com
Published On: Feb 14 2014 05:32:02 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 14 2014 11:40:20 AM CST

A Johnson City pharmacist is waiting arraignment for attempted first degree murder  after police say he tried to kill his wife.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. -

A Johnson City pharmacist is waiting arraignment for attempted first degree murder after police say he tried to kill his wife.

Washington County, Tennessee District Attorney General Tony Clark told News 5 Lee Scott Renfro is accused of trying to kill his wife Martha by injecting her with a drug used to treat diabetes. "In 20 years, I have never seen anything like this," said Clark.

Clark said Martha Renfro was being treated at Johnson City Medical Center and is alive today thanks to the quick actions of hospital staff Wednesday morning. "A nurse observed Mr. Renfro acting suspiciously. There was a syringe found with a substance called Victoza, which is a diabetic drug," said Clark.

The hospital called police. Officers began an investigation; they found Mrs. Renfro had an injection site on her upper thigh and is not diabetic. "There's a lot more to be done in this case," said Clark. "I worked with the police department during the day Wednesday and through the night, and we felt there was enough probable cause there to arrest him for attempted first degree murder."

Clark said Renfro worked as a pharmacist at West Towne Pharmacy in Johnson City. Store owner Joe Knisley issued a statement, saying, "We are shocked, we are stunned and we are saddened. We ask the community for their prayers for the Renfro family. We cannot say anything more at this time because of the ongoing investigation."

Knisley said Renfro worked for him at West Towne more than 22 years.

Others in the shopping center where West Towne is located tell News 5 that Renfro seemed like a normal, happy-go-lucky guy, but District Attorney General Tony Clark thinks Renfro planned his alleged actions for some time. "Statements that were made, the evidence obtained at the hospital, and some of the prior records we have so far indicate that this was a pre-meditated act," said Clark.

Franklin Woods Community Hospital emergency room doctor Sarah Carrier says the drug Victoza is used to treat Type 2 diabetes, and boosts a patient's ability to create insulin. It can be very dangerous to a person who is not diabetic. "The body almost completely shuts down. The person can pass out. They can injure themselves doing that. They usually get very, very sweaty. They're weak," said Dr. Carrier.

Dr.Carrier said that too much insulin in the blood lowers blood sugar levels. Too much insulin moves glucose in the blood away from where cells can use it, affecting a person's brain function and even possibly leading to death.

Lee Scott Renfro is being held on a $100,000 bond.