Picayune Sonic robbery suspects same as Poplarville’s

Published 11:42 pm Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The suspects picked up for the Sonic robbery in Poplarville have been linked to the robbery of the Picayune Sonic.

The day before Thanksgiving two men entered the Picayune Sonic through the back door after the restaurant closed, robbed the store and its four employees at gunpoint and locked three of them in the cooler before running through the woods.

On January 3, the same suspects apparently conducted a similar robbery of the Poplarville Sonic, again robbing the the employees at gunpoint after closing and locking them in the cooler before making an escape. During that incident a concerned citizen noticed the suspects parking a car down the road from the restaurant and walking off down the road. That citizen called the Poplarville Police Department. The officer who checked out the complaint found the car unlocked with the keys still in the ignition. The officer locked the car and took the keys out of the ignition after checking out the situation.

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After the robbery of Poplarville’s Sonic, an employee called 911 and minutes later another call came in from the concerned citizen. That citizen reported the suspects, later identified as Jay Magee, 20, of 26472 Ray Jones Rd., Franklinton, La. and Palanstea Williams, 19, of 1515 Parker St., Franklinton, La., were back at the now locked car trying to get in. Officers responded and found Magee in the vicinity of the vehicle. Williams was later found riding a stolen bike on U.S. 11 by a Pearl River County Sheriff’s Deputy who used a description of the suspect provided by the Poplarville Police Department.

Poplarville charged both Williams and Magee with armed robbery.

During the Picayune robbery investigators recovered a red, fitted baseball cap. The hat was provided to the Slidell, La., Police Department who extracted DNA from it to form a profile. A search warrant obtained by the Picayune Police Department after the capture of Magee and Williams enabled them to obtain DNA from the suspects. After securing the DNA from the suspects and comparing it with the previously obtained profile, Slidell Police established the cap belonged to Williams, said Picayune Police Pubic Information Officer Capt. Theresa Milar.

Picayune has since charged Williams and Magee with four counts of armed robbery, one count for each of the employees they allegedly robbed, and three counts of kidnapping, one count for each of the employees they locked in the cooler, Milar said.

Possible additional charges against Magee and Williams are being investigated in relation to similar robberies in the Slidell; Ponchatoula, La.; Hammond, La. and Denham Springs, La. areas.

Milar said Picayune’s Police Department appreciates the cooperation the Poplarville Police Department and Slidell Police Department, along with other Louisiana agencies, provided in the investigation of this case.