30-year-old Cape Girardeau County homicide mystery

Published: Jul. 4, 2013 at 3:01 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 4, 2013 at 5:10 PM CDT
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Deborah's family releases balloons and lanterns in her memory.
Deborah's family releases balloons and lanterns in her memory.

CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - It is a mystery that continues to hover over Cape Girardeau County.

30 years ago, Deborah Manning was brutally stabbed and left to die along a county road.

Her family believes the killer, or killers are still out there.

"It was pretty bad, overkill, senseless, and brutal," said Amanda Manning.

It's a nightmare that still haunts Amanda Manning.

Her mother was brutally murdered on July 4, 1983.

"It disgusts me because nothing has been done about it," said Manning. "It doesn't seem like it receives enough attention."

In 1983, Amanda was just five years old.

Memories from that July 4th night are just a fog.

"I remember we were shooting off fireworks," said Manning.

Debbie Manning reportedly walked away from the family celebration in Cape that night.

She was last seen in the area of Bloomfield and Kingshighway.

It's possible she stopped in the Candlewick bar, which was most recently named Daytimers.

Just after midnight, Deborah Manning's body was found.

"She was found in the dark of night on a lonely gravel road in the middle of nowhere," said Lt. David James.

The location was on county road 249 not far from Chaffee.

"She had been violently assaulted," said Lt. James. "She had upwards of 30 injuries to her body, throat cut and stab wounds. It was brutal and violent."

She was nude, and her clothing was scattered throughout the area.

Results of a sexual assault test have never been made public.

Manning's body was discovered by an off duty Chaffee police officer.

The sheriff at the time decided not to activate the Major Case Squad, he reportedly felt it would be solved right away.

Three decades later, and still no answers.

"30 years is too long," said Amanda Manning.

Now a grown woman with a child of her own, Amanda Manning is desperate.

"I need closure," said Manning.

She clings tight to the few mementos she still has, including a teddy bear given to her by her mother when she was three, and a framed picture of her mother.

Amanda is grateful for the father who raised her, and her two brothers.

However, she feels robbed of a relationship with a mother.

"I was the only girl, my dad raised me to be a woman but it would have been nice to have a mom do things that dad did for me," said Manning.

Now every Fourth of July brings back painful memories of the past.

"It's a sad time," said Manning.

Lt. David James with the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Office was a reserve officer when Deborah Manning was killed.

He remembers it well, and now hopes to connect the dots and solve the decades old mystery.

"Sometimes time is a good thing," said Lt. James. "Time can heal, and can cause people to start thinking that now's a good time to say something."

He says potential witnesses may hear from him soon.

"We're planning to do interviews this summer and try and spark interest in it again," said Lt. James.

It is possible the killer or killers are still in the area, and someone...somewhere knows something.

"We need people to come forward with information...anything," said Amanda Manning. "Please help us find the person who killed our mother."

Amanda Manning is currently pushing to get her mother's story shown on a national level.

She believes it is possible someone beyond the Heartland may be able to help piece this puzzle together.

Wednesday night some close family and friends gathered to release lanterns and balloons into the sky in memory of Debbie on this very solemn 30 year anniversary.

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