Murder suspect taken into custody in Mississippi

Published 2:29 pm Saturday, March 5, 2022

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Law enforcement authorities said Saturday that they may have arrested the man responsible for murdering a Bogalusa business owner Thursday evening.

According to a report from the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, David Huey Rester Jr., 50, of Vidalia, was incarcerated in Harrison County, Miss., where he was being held on charges in connection with a bank robbery that occurred Friday in Waveland, Miss. Rester is also wanted in connection with the murder in Washington Parish, and is suspected of robbing and sexually battering a clerk at a Pearl River, Miss., convenience store in late February.

On Thursday evening, a Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office patrol deputy responded to the Pub Lounge on South Columbia Street in Bogalusa and discovered the owner, Marl Wayne Smith, had been murdered, according to WPSO Chief Criminal Deputy Mike Haley.

In addition, the ATM machine inside the business had been destroyed and all money taken, Haley said.

Detectives with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Major Crime Unit began working with detectives with the WPSO after they developed information that led them to believe the suspect who committed the crimes in Pearl River on Feb. 27 was the same individual who murdered the Bogalusa-area bar owner.

Working together, detectives with both agencies were able to identify that individual as Rester, and it did not take them long to locate him.

Detectives learned that Rester was taken into custody in Harrison County on Friday morning, following a pursuit. He was interviewed and confessed to both murdering and robbing the Bogalusa bar owner, as well as robbing and battering the Pearl River convenience store clerk.

As of Saturday morning, Rester remained in the Harrison County Jail, where he was awaiting extradition to Louisiana.

In addition to the charges he faces in Mississippi and Washington Parish, the STPSO has obtained warrants for Rester’s arrest for armed robbery, aggravated second-degree battery and felony sexual battery.

“Criminals do not care about jurisdictional lines,” St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith said. “(This) is what makes communication and cooperation between agencies imperative in solving crimes and taking dangerous criminals like this one off the street. Thank you to everyone involved for the work they did to identify and arrest this individual.”

Haley said that numerous agencies assisted in the investigation and capture of Rester.

“Special thanks go out to our own officers, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, Waveland Police Department, Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, Harrison County Sheriff’s Office, Pearl River County Sheriff’s Office and the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab,” he said. “The combined effort of officers from each of these fine law enforcement agencies helped to put Rester behind bars.”

Washington Parish Sheriff Randy Seal commented on the quick arrest.

“We are charging Rester with first-degree murder and will be seeking the death penalty upon conviction,” Seal said. “Circumstances of the murder justify the charge of murder in the first degree and Rester has undeniably earned his date with the executioner. His imprisonment and execution will not return Marl Wayne Smith to his family and friends, but will help bring closure to a senseless and unconscionable cold-blooded murder.”