AUGUSTA — A 56-year-old former West Gardiner woman was arrested Tuesday at her Riverside Drive apartment and charged with armed robbery of a convenience store in January.

Cynthia B. Chepke, now of Augusta, is accused of robbery and theft by unauthorized taking in the Jan. 27 robbery at Circle K in Farmingdale.

The charge of Class A robbery carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, and the complaint indicates Chepke used a handgun to threaten a clerk and stole an unspecified amount of cash.

An affidavit filed in Kennebec County Superior Court by Detective David Bucknam, of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office, details the trail investigators followed that ended with Chepke’s arrest.

The robbery was reported at 7:30 p.m. that Sunday, and investigators used a tracking dog to follow a trail of high-heeled boot prints in the snow, finding a discarded black jacket in a Dumpster near a Maine Avenue parking lot. The robber was described as a woman wearing a black jacket over a hoodie.

A May 7 letter to Bucknam indicated tests on the collar and cuffs of that jacket at the Maine State Crime Laboratory showed the DNA was consistent with Chepke’s.

In the meantime, an Augusta man told authorities he picked up Chepke in Farmingdale that night near the site of the robbery and brought her to a woman’s apartment in east Augusta, receiving a $20 bill for his trouble. Later, he found a torn $5 bill on the floor of his vehicle, but a bank refused to trade it in and he left it there.

The Circle K clerk told police the robber reached into the cash register and pulled out the $5 bills. The clerk also told police he believed the gun was real because “he heard it clunk loudly on the counter,” the affidavit says.

At the direction of investigators, the man made several phone calls to Chepke that were recorded, including one in which she tells him, “You didn’t see no gun, and you don’t know nothing yo,” according to Bucknam’s affidavit.

Both the Augusta man and a woman at the apartment recalled Chepke wearing boots that night that were later seized by police, and both recognized Chepke in footage from the store’s surveillance camera, Bucknam said.

Bucknam also said the woman indicated Chepke told her she had used an Airsoft BB gun and told her “it would never be found.”

On Feb. 22, Bucknam seized a box of Winchester 9 mm ammunition from Chepke’s Augusta apartment.

Chepke made an initial court appearance Wednesday in Waterville District Court where a judge set bail at $5,000 cash or $1,000 cash if she is approved for a MaineGeneral PreTrial Services contract.

Betty Adams — 621-5631
badams@centralmaine.com