05/01/07 — Accused killer also charged with sex offenses against child

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Accused killer also charged with sex offenses against child

By Lee Williams
Published in News on May 1, 2007 1:48 PM

Lenoir County Sheriff's Office officials have filed a new list of charges to a man accused in the murder of a 7-year-old Pink Hill girl.

John Alan Manning, 37, of 206 Leighton Drive, originally faced one count of murder in connection with the death of Chasity Sumner. Now he faces additional charges of first-degree rape, first-degree sex offense and first-degree kidnapping, Lenoir County Sheriff's Major Chris Hill said.

Chasity, who lived in the same home as Manning, was abducted from her home in the middle of the night on Saturday.

Her grandmother, Rose Sumner, reportedly awoke and noticed that the child was missing at about 1 a.m. She searched for the child, but to no avail, so she called authorities.

Members of the 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.

About nine hours later, they found the child's body in a ditch not far from her home in a wooded area.

Charges were filed against Manning soon after the discovery.

The sheriff's office said a party occurred at the house Friday night, but they are unsure if it played a role in the child's abduction.

Lenoir County District Attorney Branny Vickory spent the better part of his day working on the case. He said the details of what happened to the child deeply troubled him.

"It's bad," he said.

Vickory said he believed Chasity and Manning had family ties, but he was unsure if they were related by lineage or through marriage.

The incident was the first murder logged in Pink Hill this year.

One neighbor, who lived near Manning's home, said she saw the child every day and added that she was saddened by the news.

"It's just awful," said the elderly resident, who asked not to be identified.

The neighbor said Chasity's grandmother would take her to the bus stop in the morning, and when the weather permitted, she would often see the child riding her bicycle.

A manner of death has not been released.

Chasity's body was sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Chapel Hill for an autopsy.