Local News

Slain woman's boyfriend charged with murder

Posted May 29, 2009 9:08 a.m. EDT
Updated May 29, 2009 9:38 a.m. EDT

— 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.