Officials: Vidalia, Louisiana, man who robbed bank Friday also wanted for murder of Bogalusa bar owner, sexual assault of Mississippi store clerk

Published 6:19 am Sunday, March 6, 2022

Officials say a Louisiana man who was arrested after he robbed a Mississippi bank and then led officers on a high-speed chase reaching 120 mph is also wanted for murdering a Louisiana bar owner and the sexual battery and robbery of a convenience store clerk.

Officials with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office report that David Rester Jr., 51, of Vidalia, Louisiana, (just across the Mississippi River from Natchez, Mississippi) is the person suspected of murdering a bar owner Thursday evening during a robbery in Washington Parish. Rester is accused of killing Marl Wayne Smith the owner of Smith’s Pub Lounge in Bogalusa.

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

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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 high-speed 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.”

St. Tammany authorities said they will seek to extradite Rester from Mississippi to face a murder charge in the death of Smith in Bogalusa. If convicted of murder, Rester would face a mandatory life sentence in Louisiana.

Rester was being held at the Harrison County Detention Center.