A California man who allegedly faked his own suicide near San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge in an attempt to avoid prison time for a recent child sexual assault was apparently found living inside a storage container in Florida this week.
In September 2015, California’s Chico Police Detective Bureau, along with Homeland Security agents, began investigating Michael Patrick Manning, 58, for child sexual assaults that happened back in 2008 and 2009. One of the victims was between age 12 and 14 when the abuse went on. Manning was arrested and released from jail after posting bail, according to the Chico Police Department. Just a few days later, he was arrested again for possessing and manufacturing child pornography, resulting from evidence found during a search of his home during his first arrest.
He pleaded no contest to the charges and was scheduled to be sentenced a year later but he never appeared in court.
In fact, he appeared to be dead.
On Oct. 7, 2016, a rental car leased in Manning’s name was discovered by park rangers “near the Golden Gate Bridge bearing a suicide note authored by Manning,” police said. His body wasn’t found and investigators “began to monitor the behavior and patterns of a close associate of Manning and observed what appeared to be sophisticated counter surveillance measures.”
That associate was involved in international travel, according to police.
“Agents from the Marshal’s Service continued to monitor the behavior and developed leads regarding possibilities of Manning’s location,” police wrote. “ Residences, storage facilities, and vehicles tied to Manning's associate were frequently found full of personal property, and hastily abandoned. Investigators believed that on multiple occasions they had narrowly missed apprehending Manning.”
But by April of this year, they narrowed down their search for him to Florida and on May 3, sheriff’s deputies in Key West responded to a burglary alarm at a marina.
“Deputies located a man living in an unlocked connex storage trailer adjacent to the property,” police wrote. That man identified himself as William Wallace Littlejohn and showed a passport and Navy ID with that name, which deputies believed was false.
That man underwent fingerprint analysis and was positively identified as Manning.
He’s now in custody in Monroe County on no-bail warrants and is awaiting extradition back to California.
It’s not clear if he has a lawyer who can speak on his behalf.
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