04/30/07 — Lenoir County man charged in murder of 7-year-old girl

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Lenoir County man charged in murder of 7-year-old girl

By Lee Williams
Published in News on April 30, 2007 1:47 PM

A Lenoir County man faces a murder charge in connection with the death of a 7-year-old girl whose body was found in a ditch in Pink Hill over the weekend about nine hours after she was reported missing.

John Alan Manning, 37, of 256 Leighton Drive, Pink Hill, was taken into custody by the Lenoir County Sheriff's Office. Manning was being held in the Lenoir County Jail without bond in connection with the murder of Chasity Amelia Sumner.

Chasity was reported missing by her grandmother at about 1 a.m. Saturday. Her grandmother called the Lenoir County Sheriff's Office and a search for the child ensued.

Mmembers of the Lenoir County Sheriff's Office, Highway Patrol, Lenoir County Emergency Management, North Carolina Bureau of Investigation and Pink Hill Police Department went door-to-door with search dogs, looking for the girl.

However, the dark night sky hindered their search.

Several hours later, authorities found the little girl's body, Lenoir County Detective Christy Smith said.

"At around 9:45 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturday, we found her in a ditch in a wooden area," she said.

Ms. Smith declined to give details on how the remains were found. However, she did say officials are awaiting lab results to determine if the child had been sexually assaulted.

Authorities said the two were acquaintances and that Manning lived in the home with Chasity.

Manning did make a statement to authorities, but authorities declined to release details about his verbal submission.

The incident is the first homicide reported in Pink Hill this year, she said.

Ms. Smith called the incident that claimed the little girl's life "horrible."

"It's a horrible, horrible, horrible thing," Ms. Smith said. "The murder of an adult is horrible, but the murder of a child is even worse. A child is innocent. They can't protect themselves."

Manning's first appearance is scheduled for today, she said.