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Slain woman's boyfriend charged with murder

Posted May 29, 2009

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— The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office issued an arrest warrant for first-degree murder Friday against the boyfriend of a woman whose body was found in her SUV in Stedman Monday.

Investigators said that Keith Devon Manuel, 32, of 1686 S. Reilly Road in Fayetteville, has been hiding since they tried to question him about the death of Jessica Morgan-Lee, 35. He might be trying to leave the state, they said.

Morgan-Lee's body was found after a concerned resident reported that an SUV that had been parked along Shelton Beard Road for at least two days. She lived on Pepperbush Drive in Fayetteville, 17 miles away, and friends told authorities they have no idea why she was there.

Manuel has a history of domestic violence and should be considered armed and dangerous, investigators said. He served probation for drug possession and driving while impaired in 2006, according to state Department of Correction records.

He was described as a black man standing 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighing 175 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes. He also has a scar on his forehead.

Anyone with information about Manuel’s whereabouts should call the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office at 910-323-1500.

Friends said that Morgan-Lee was an inspiring single mother of three who, after being laid off in 2007, enrolled in the culinary arts program at Fayetteville Technical Community College and worked nights at the Eaton Corp. plant in Fayetteville.

Her body has been sent to the State Medical Examiners Office in Chapel Hill for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

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  • teacher-mom May 29, 2009

    This certainly is a tragedy for her family. My sympathey to the family and friends. It is a shame when anyone is murdered, but it sounds like she was an outstanding person. I hope they find him.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT May 29, 2009

    Brick CIty Girl, I totally agree. Many young kids grow up adopting the thug mentality as they become adults. I blame parents for that. But why do the women continue to take to the thugs? They must be looking for something more in their life. And they enjoy the rush they get with these men. That's only one reason. I'm sure you ALL could offer many more.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT May 29, 2009

    Professor: "What a shame! A life taken for nothing. This man with his domestic criminal back-ground should get life in prison without parole."

    Why wouldn't you consider the Death Penalty along with Life in Prison? You mentioned her life was taken for no good reason. His life would be taken for a VERY good reason.

  • Brick CIty Girl May 29, 2009

    I for one am not "inspired" by a woman who would date a man who "has a history of domestic violence ... served probation for drug possession and driving while impaired" I don't understand women who seem to work hard and take care of others, but still put up with men like this.

  • Professor May 29, 2009

    What a shame! A life taken for nothing. This man with his domestic criminal back-ground should get life in prison without parole. My condolences to her family.

  • FoxtrotUniformCharlieKiloakaCALM May 29, 2009

    dog the bounty hunter will find him.

  • wife-of-a-concrete-man May 29, 2009

    her obituary in yesterday's fay. observer listed a husband as a survivor also...?

  • sssh.. whisper May 29, 2009

    "was an inspiring single mother of three"

    My thoughts and prayers are with her children

  • jprime May 29, 2009

    I knew they didn't want to just "question him"

    At least they were smart enough to not let the cat out of the bag at first.