CHICO (CBS SF) — A Chico man who police say faked his own suicide off the Golden Gate Bridge to avoid jail for child sexual assault and pornography charges has been arrested in Florida.
According to a press release from the Chico Police Department, 58-year-old Michael Manning has been arrested in Monroe County, Florida, and was awaiting extradition to Northern California.
Chico police and Homeland Security agents arrested Manning in 2015 on charges he sexually assaulted a young girl. He was booked on four sex counts and made bail. But he failed to appear for his next court appearance and an arrest warrant was issued.
On October 7th, 2016, US Parks Service officers located a rental car leased to Manning near the Golden Gate Bridge bearing a suicide note authored by him. His body was never and the case remained open.
“Investigators began to monitor the behavior and patterns of a close associate of Manning and observed what appeared to be sophisticated counter-surveillance measures,” Chico police said in a release.
The search for Manning extended through Chico, Yuba City, Sacramento, San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland and Alameda. Detectives also requested assistance from the United States Marshal’s Service Fugitive Task Force and the FBI.
“The investigation continued to broaden in scope with indicators that Manning’s close associate was involved in international travel,” the release said.
On multiple occasions, detectives narrowly missed catching Manning, including one time at Fortman Marina in Alameda. They also think his associate may have been involved in trying to get Manning international travel.
“Residences, storage facilities and vehicles tied to Manning’s associate were frequently found full of personal property, and hastily abandoned,” Chico police said in the release.
In April of 2019, agents with the US Marshal’s Service developed leads possibly linking Manning’s location to Florida.
On May 3rd, at 1:30 a.m. (EST), Monroe County Sheriff’s deputies in Key West responded to a burglary alarm at a business on the Stock Island Marina.
Deputies located a man living in an unlocked connex storage trailer adjacent to the property. The man identified himself as William Wallace Littlejohn, utilizing a passport and US Navy ID card. Deputies determined the passport and Navy ID were likely fraudulent.
While in the Monroe County Jail, the suspect underwent fingerprint analysis and was positively identified as Manning.