Sheriff: Fugitive sought after high-speed chase

Published 10:37 am Friday, April 30, 2021

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On Thursday, bail bond agents were attempting to take two parish residents into custody at 21358 Louisiana Highway 436, according to Chief Deputy Mike Haley of the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Haley said that one of the suspects, Rodney Wayne Smith, 45, a resident of that address, and a fugitive from Pearl River County, Miss., was in handcuffs and located in the rear seat of the bounty hunter’s vehicle when he managed to get into the front seat and speed away.

Rodney Wayne Smith

Haley said that WPSO deputies and detectives responded and pursued the fleeing vehicle, which turned north on Louisiana Highway 62 and north again on Louisiana Highway 424 when officers lost sight of the vehicle near Hubert Grantham Road. The vehicle was later found abandoned down an embankment about 30 yards from the roadway off Highway 424. Smith was not on scene, but did steal an Anderson Arms AR-15 from the vehicle when he fled on foot, Haley said.

Drug Task Force detectives were called to the scene along with a canine team from Rayburn Correctional Center. Officers were unable to locate Smith, but were able to determine he fled in the woods west of Highway 424 and somehow was able to shed his handcuffs and shackles, Haley said. A warrant has been obtained for Smith for vehicle theft, aggravated flight from an officer, theft of a firearm and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

Haley said that Smith’s accomplice was arrested at the residence on Highway 436. Heather Jones, 36, a resident of Avenue D in Bogalusa, was booked into the Washington Parish Jail based on an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court. Jones has a previous arrest in September 2020 for possession with intent to distribute illegal drugs, Haley said.

“If you know where Rodney Wayne Smith is located, please call and let us know,” Washington Parish Sheriff Randy Seal said. “He is armed, so do not try to apprehend him yourself. Call us at 985-839-3434 and give us whatever information you have. We will take it from there. Callers may remain anonymous. We need to take Smith into custody before anyone gets hurt.”