|“||I did it. I killed all those women in 2007. I tried to be good, but in these last few weeks, I couldn't help myself. I had to kill again.||”|
— Manning's dying words in "Lucky Strikes"
Manning was born on August 12, 1979, and raised in Bridgewater, Florida, and grew up living with both of his parents and his older sister, Johanna. As a child, he developed cannibalistic urges which culminated when Manning was nine and he got into a fight with a classmate and bit off part of his ear in third grade. This led to him having a juvenile record that was later expunged. As a result, he presumably became obsessed with cannibalism but, in an attempt to control his urges, attended therapy sessions as a teenager with a therapist named Diana Dugan. Because he was socially-awkward and suffered from loneliness, Dugan also encouraged him to attend group therapy sessions.
While attending Blue Ridge High School, Manning was frequently bullied. In one incident while he was a sophomore, a group of students stole all of his clothes from his locker while he was showering. They then pelted him with bars of soap, causing bruising on his torso, and took his towel as well, forcing Manning to stay in the shower room. He was later found by the football coach curled up in a ball and sobbing uncontrollably. In a report on one of his later therapy sessions, Dugan described Manning as struggling with impotency and "in a state of major depression and futility about his future".
As an adult, he joined a bible study group at the local church and apparently got his cannibalistic urges under control until he met Floyd Feylinn Ferell, a serial killer and cannibal captured by the BAU ten years previously. Ferell had recently been granted supervised home release at his sister, Lori's home on weekends from the Hazelwood State Hospital for the Criminally Insane under the pretense of having overcome his own cannibalistic urges. Realizing they shared the same fantasies, Manning sought out Ferell and the two hatched a plan for Manning to copy Ferell's crimes to get him permanently released from the institution by making it seem that there was another killer manipulating him while he was still at large. Ferell tutored Manning on how to act on his fantasies and how to emulate his murders. He also told him about an abandoned warehouse he would take his own victims to after abducting them. This provided Manning with a private location to commit his murders and he started by killing Evonne Westfield, Johanna's fiancée, apparently as practice since he didn't dispose of her body afterward, likely to avoid drawing unwanted attention from law enforcement.
One month after the first murder, Manning abducts and kills a prostitute named Rebecca Strong, copying Ferell's murder of Abby Kelton to the last detail. Afterwards, he disposes of her body in a construction site restroom, where it is soon discovered. This leads Bridgewater police to once again call in the BAU, who note the similarities with the earlier crimes and suspect that Ferell has begun killing again after being released. This belief is fortified when they learn that Strong was force-fed a previous victim's fingers, a signature known only to Ferell himself. Manning then eats five of her fingers, bringing the remaining five to the study group to give to Ferell in a brown paper bag. Sitting next to him in the group, Manning discretely places the bag inside on the floor between them. Though he was escorted to the church by Simmons, Ferell manages to slip away to the men's restroom with the bag when Reid calls Simmons to tell him about a Satanic shrine they found in Lori's house and consume the remaining fingers himself. Upon his return, Ferell is verbally assaulted by Lee-Ann Kelton, the mother of Abby Kelton, one of his final victims before being led away by Simmons and Alvez. Afraid that their plan is falling apart, Manning panics, later ambushing Lee-Ann as she is walking to her car and abducting her.
However, he is unable to take Lee-Ann to the warehouse as Ferell revealed its location to the BAU and they discover Westfield's body. Bringing her to Ferell's old house where he committed his own murders instead, Manning begins to cut through a still-unconscious Lee-Ann's pants with a knife, saying that she shouldn't have "disrespected" Ferell. He then begins rubbing her legs with oil. Lee-Ann wakes up and tries to escape just as Alvez and Rossi enter the basement, their guns trained on Manning. He grabs his knife and holds it against Lee-Ann's throat and threatens to kill her. Rossi begins to lower his gun and tells him they know that Ferell has been manipulating him into killing using his M.O., something Manning denies and claims that Ferell "didn't do anything". Having deduced that Ferell had planned everything prior to his arrest, Rossi tells Manning that, although he looks up to him, Ferell is using him and wants him to be caught. Manning then tells them that he committed Ferell's murders before killing himself by slashing his own throat with the knife. Rossi tries to stop him, but Manning dies instantly. He then remarks that Manning' confession is all Ferell needs to secure his release, just as he planned. However, Garcia and JJ learn from his autopsy report that Manning ate five of Strong's fingers and are able to get a warrant to scan Ferell's stomach for the remaining fingers, proving that Manning lied about Ferell's innocence. This not only stops Ferell from being released but also allows them to finally send him to prison for his crimes.
"I can't wait to taste this."
Manning copied Ferell's murders to near-perfection, enough to make the BAU believe Ferell had started killing after a decade of dormancy. He would incapacitate his victims by striking them in the head then abduct and transport them to an abandoned warehouse, where he would hold them captive for a time and rub their legs with oil to make the meat tender. He would then kill them by slashing their throats but not before severing their fingers and legs. After killing them, he would carve inverted pentagrams on their chests like Ferell did with his own victims. However, Manning did deviate from Ferell's M.O. when he killed Evonne Westfield, his sister's fiancée and thus a victim he had a personal connection to, something Ferell himself never did. Because of this and the fact that it was also his first murder, Manning hesitated in killing her and didn't perform some of Ferell's rituals on her, such as severing her legs. He also bit her right leg numerous times, again deviating from Ferell's M.O. as Ferell only rubbed the legs of his victims.
In the case of Rebecca Strong, Manning copied Ferell's murder of Abby Kelton exactly, force-feeding her five of Westfield's severed fingers (a fact withheld from the public) and completing all of Ferell's rituals, including severing her fingers and legs. Manning later disposed of her body in an isolated women's restroom, where Ferell abducted his last victim, Tracy Lambert. He even arranged her earrings and jewelry equidistant on the floor, similar to how Ferell neatly arranged Lambert's books on a toilet seat after abducting her. The only notable difference between both murders was that Strong was a prostitute (Ferell's original victim type), while Kelton was a low-risk victim. He also ate five of her fingers and gave the remaining five to Ferell, who also ate them. In his abduction of Lee-Ann Kelton (Abby Kelton's mother) Manning transported her to Floyd's old house (since the BAU had discovered the warehouse he intended to take her) where he intended to kill and eat her like the previous victims.
No official profile of Manning was made by the BAU as they believed Ferell was personally responsible for the latest murders. However, Simmons did mention that, if it was a copycat, the unsub was looking to revel in the horror left behind after Ferrell's murders. Reid described copycats as vulnerable narcissists who, although overtly boastful, harbor deep-seeded feelings of inadequacy and emulating notorious crimes that make them feel powerful. They also considered the slim possibility that the unsub was the dominant half of a two-person killing team with Ferell who eluded capture by them ten years ago but later dismissed this theory based on the hesitation and inexperience demonstrated in Westfield's murder.
Manning is similar to Carl Großmann - Both were cannibalistic serial killers (budding at least) who committed crimes before their murders, targeted women, dismembered their bodies and cannibalized them, and ultimately committed suicide at the end of their murders.
He is also similar to Nathaniel Bar-Jonah - Both were abductors with cannibalistic urges dating back to their childhood, attacked another child when they were children, had a previous criminal record covered up in some way (Manning had an offending minor's record that was expunged, while Bar-Jonah changed state and wasn't obliged to register as a sex offender) and went to church on a regular basis.
Manning may have also been based on Richard Ramirez - Both were serial killers (budding at least) who had Satanic influences which compelled them to leave Satanic pentagrams at crime scenes, committed crimes prior to their murders, primarily targeted women (though Ramirez incidentally killed men too), and killed victims by slashing them with sharp bladed weaponry (though this was only one of Ramirez' methods).
Manning may have also been based on Ted Bundy - Both were serial killers (budding at least) and abductors who committed crimes before their murders, targeted women, abducted them by striking them over the head and taking them to a secluded location to be killed (sometimes in Bundy's case), and bit them.
Manning may have been inspired by Nikolai Dzhumagaliev - Both were cannibalistic serial killers (budding at least) who committed an assault prior to their killings, primarily targeted women (though Dzhumagaliev also killed a man), killed them with knives (though Dzhumagaliev also used an axe and even a firearm at one point), and dismembered and cannibalized their remains. Also, the way the BAU assumed Ferell to have begun killing again after his release could be a slight nod to how Dzhumagaliev was released despite having committed several murders (unbeknownst to authorities, who arrested him for manslaughter) and resumed killing.
- December 9, 1988: Unnamed student (attempted, but survived; bit off a piece of his ear)
- September 11-15: Evonne Westfield (Johanna's fiancée; did not severe her legs; also bit her right leg post-mortem)
- October 21: Rebecca Strong (a prostitute; was force-fed five of Evonne's fingers, severed her legs and dumped her body in a restroom; also ate five of her own severed fingers; gave the remaining five fingers to Floyd; he also later ate them)
- October 22: Lee-Ann Kelton (mother of Abby Kelton; abducted and intended to eat her, later held at knifepoint; was rescued)
- Manning is somewhat similar to Claire Bates ("The Instincts") Both were mentally-ill budding serial killers who attempted to kill someone and bit off a piece of their ear when doing so before their murders.
- Aspects of Manning's M.O. are similar to many previous criminals who have appeared on the show:
- The report on the bullying incident states it occurred on April 13, 1994, when Maning was fifteen and was referred to the principal three days later on April 16. However, it also stated that Manning would meet with the school guidance counselor to discuss the incident on April 16, 2017. This was most likely a mistake on the designer's part.
- Impotency has another meaning apart from the one about a male's inability to achieve an erection. It describes feelings of helplessness or inability to take effective action