Three arrested after Friday felony crime spree

Published 1:05 pm Monday, December 19, 2016

Three Washington Parish residents were in jail Monday morning for their alleged involvement in a series of targeted felony crimes including carjacking, burglary and rape.

At 1:20 p.m. on Dec. 16, the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office received a call from a Washington Parish resident who reported that he went home for lunch and discovered his wife, his firearm collection and their vehicle was missing. He suspected foul play.

The sheriff’s deputies and detectives responded immediately, along with officers from the Franklinton Police Department, the Louisiana Department of Probation and Parole, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Rayburn Correctional Center canine team.

Officers saturated the area and after approximately 30 minutes, a probation and parole officer located the vehicle and the female victim on a hunting club road. The vehicle had become stuck in mud and according to the sheriff’s office, Deonta Miller, 17, fled into the woods. At that time, the victim also fled into nearby woods in the opposite direction her assailant had taken. When she saw the probation and parole officer, she came out of hiding and went to him.

Officers converged on the area, searched the woods in the direction Miller had fled, located him and took him into custody without incident.

At the time of Miller’s arrest, the sheriff’s office reports he was carrying three pistols, a mask and he was still wearing latex gloves he used to avoid leaving fingerprints or other evidence. The arrest came within an hour of the complaint being received by the sheriff’s office. During subsequent interviews, Miller allegedly confessed to the crimes.

Also during the interview, sheriff’s deputies reported that Miller explained how he had gotten access to the victim in the Friday kidnapping.

Deputies say Miller allegedly went to the front door of the victim’s house posing as a package delivery person. When the victim opened the door to receive the package, Miller then allegedly pushed his way inside at gunpoint, pulled the mask over his face, tied up the victim, stole numerous firearms located in the house, forced the victim out of the house and into her vehicle and then sped away. After turning onto the hunting camp road, Miller stopped the vehicle and allegedly sexually assaulted the victim.

During the investigation, deputies determined that Miller had been brought to the area by Robert J. Lester who lived in the vicinity and who had prepared the fake delivery box. According to deputies, when Miller fled the residence with the victim, Lester allegedly followed in his own vehicle. As Miller would allegedly throw stolen firearms out of the victim’s vehicle, Lester would allegedly pick them up. The sheriff’s office reports that during interviews, Lester confessed to his part in the crimes.

Once Lester had retrieved the firearms, he allegedly drove to Franklinton where he met his niece, Victoria Lester, and asked her to help him find a location to hide the stolen weapons. The niece then allegedly identified an abandoned residence in a rural area near Franklinton where she and her uncle took the weapons and hid them. Once the location of the weapons was identified, sheriff’s office detectives were able to retrieve them.

Deputies report there is no reason to believe Victoria Lester was aware of the crimes which had been committed by Miller and her uncle.

Miller, a resident of Franklinton, faces charges of two counts of aggravated rape, one count of aggravated burglary, one count of aggravated kidnapping and one count of carjacking. His bond has been set at $650,000.

Robert J. Lester, 48, a resident of southwest Washington Parish, faces charges of convicted felon in possession of a firearm, principle to aggravated kidnapping, principal to carjacking, and principal to aggravated burglary of an inhabited dwelling. His bond has been set at $350,000.

Victoria Lester, 18, also a resident of southwest Washington Parish and niece to Robert J. Lester, faces a charge of accessory after the fact. She was released on $5,000 bond.

Sheriff Randy Seal commented, “Deonta Miller and Robert Lester contrived these crimes, targeted this victim and carried out these devious acts. This was not a random act. Thanks to a prompt response by numerous law enforcement agencies and good detective work by our criminal investigative division, both suspects were quickly caught and jailed. I am grateful for the fine efforts of all officers involved and I offer my deepest sympathy to the victims.”