A man wanted on a rape charge in Tangipahoa Parish was arrested in the aggravated kidnapping of a woman and her 2-year-old son from a Watson-area Dollar General store.
The St. Helena Sheriff’s Office contacted Livingston Parish deputies about a chase Saturday involving a speeding stolen vehicle that stopped near Calmes Road, a few miles north of the Livingston Parish line, officials said Thursday.
The driver fled on foot, and a woman and her toddler son were found in the car, Livingston Parish sheriff’s spokeswoman Lori Steele said in a news release.
The woman said she and her son had been taken at gunpoint from the Dollar General store at 39578 La. 16. They were then driven across the parish line into St. Helena and possibly Tangipahoa parishes, Steele said.
“It is believed that a rape occurred,” St. Helena Sheriff Nat Williams said. “We are currently investigating.”
A joint investigation led to the arrest of Charles A. Smith, 28, of 52118 La. 16, Denham Springs, who was booked into the Livingston Parish Detention Center on Tuesday on aggravated kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping of a child and two counts of false imprisonment, Steele said. Smith also has an outstanding warrant for rape in Tangipahoa Parish.
No other information about Smith was immediately available.
Bail has been set at $360,000, according to online records for the Livingston Parish jail.
Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard said witnesses had seen Smith in the area acting suspiciously, but it was never reported.
“If you see anyone looking suspicious, please call us,” Ard said. “Let us check them out. That’s our job.”
Ard commended Williams, the St. Helena sheriff, for helping to apprehend Smith.
“Sheriff Williams and I were in constant contact sharing information,” Ard said. “That was a vital piece in the quick capture of the suspect.”
Steele said the investigation is ongoing, and more charges are possible.