Three arrested in Franklinton home invasion and sexual assault case
NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – More arrests have been made in the case of a man who posed as a package delivery driver, burglarized a Franklinton home, kidnapped a woman who lived there and sexually assaulted her last week.
The Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office announced on Friday that they had captured 17-year-old Franklinton resident Deonta Miller after a multi-agency manhunt that included the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana Probation and Parole, and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
According to the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office, Miller pretended to deliver a package to a rural home near Franklinton. He reportedly burglarized the home and forced the woman inside to leave with him. The victim said Miller sexually assaulted her.
Washington Parish Sheriff Randy Seal’s office today announced the charges against Miller, which include 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.
Two other Washington Parish residents have been arrested in connection with the case.
Robert J. Lester, 48, a resident of southwest Washington Parish, faces charges of convicted felon in possession of a firearm, principal 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. As of this afternoon, she has been released after posting a $5,000 bond.
In a press release detailing the three arrests, the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office also laid out more details of the case.
The unnamed victim was found by a Probation and Parole officer on a hunting club road after the victim’s husband came home from lunch, found his wife, vehicle, and firearms collection missing, and called the police.
Miller, who had been driving the victim’s vehicle until it became stuck in the mud on the hunting club road, fled into the woods when he saw the Probation and Parole officer, according to the report.
Miller was found after an extensive search. At the time of Miller’s arrest, The Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office reports he was carrying three pistols and a mask and 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 confessed to the crimes.
During the investigation, it was 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. Once Miller fled the residence with the victim, Lester followed in his own vehicle. As Miller would throw stolen firearms out of the victim’s vehicle, Lester would pick them up. During interviews, Lester confessed to his part in the crimes.
Once Lester had retrieved the firearms, he 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 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. At this time, there is no reason to believe Victoria Lester was aware of the crimes which had been committed by Miller and her uncle, according to the WPSO.
“Deonta Miller and Robert Lester contrived these crimes, targeted this victim and carried out these devious acts,” Sheriff Randy Seal said. “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.”