The fugitive was captured late Friday in Walthall County, Mississippi. The search continued throughout the day April 30 with Walthall County deputies, Washington Parish deputies and Rayburn officers. The AR15 Smith had stolen earlier was located in a barn in Walthall County. The pursuit of Smith carried on until late in the evening when Smith was tracked to an abandoned residence on Dexter Road in Walthall County. An unarmed Smith was taken into custody and transported to the Walthall County Jail where he is being held with holds from both Washington Parish and Pearl River County.
A Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy who was part of the pursuit team commented, “I can’t tell you how many fences we jumped as we followed Smith’s trail, but we never gave up.”
“You might run and you might hide, but eventually we will find you,” stated Sheriff Randy Seal. “Walthall County Sheriff Kyle Breland and his officers, along with the fine officers and canines from Rayburn Correctional Center were invaluable allies in the search for Smith. We are so grateful for their assistance and how ironic that the abandoned house where Smith was located belongs to a Mississippi law enforcement officer.”
On Thursday of this week, private bail bond agents were attempting to take two parish residents into custody at 21358 Highway 436. One of the suspects, Rodney Wayne Smith, a 45 year old resident of that address, and a fugitive from Pearl River County, Mississippi, 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. The Sheriff's Office was alerted and Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies and detectives responded and pursued the fleeing vehicle which turned north on Highway 62 and north again on Highway 424 when officers lost sight of the vehicle near Hubert Grantham Road. The vehicle was later found abandoned down an embankment about thirty yards from the roadway off Highway 424. Smith was not on the scene, but he did apparently steal an Anderson Arms AR15 from the vehicle when he fled on foot.
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. 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.
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.
Private bail bond agents have latitude to operate across state lines to locate fugitives without notifying local law enforcement officials. In this case, once Smith had stolen the bail agent's car, his weapon, and escaped (all the while wearing handcuffs and shackles), local law enforcement authorities were notified.
“If you know where Rodney Wayne Smith is located, please call and let us know,” stated Sheriff Randy Seal. “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.”