Millcreek Man Accused of Child Abuse Once Stole Marine’s Medals, Uniforms
MILLCREEK, Utah – A man arrested on suspicion of child abuse in a case that left the 5-year-old son of his fiancée unresponsive had previously been convicted of stealing a Marine’s medals, uniforms and records.
John Michael Manning, 30, was arrested Friday along with fiancée Jordan Kay Wills, 26, after Unified Police investigators said the couple took the unconscious boy to Primary Children’s Hospital with “numerous” injuries and possible malnourishment.
A jail booking statement said the couple’s explanation of what had happened to the child did not match his injuries, and that a child abuse specialist believed the injuries occurred over a period of time.
The news of Manning’s arrest stunned Kurt Harris, who befriended the man in 2016.
“Oh, I was immediately incensed — just so full of anger,” Harris said Tuesday.
Harris, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 11 years, said he first grew acquainted with Manning at a Salt Lake City gym, and took the man in during a supposedly difficult time.
“He had an altercation with his roommate, he told me, and he needed a place to crash,” Harris recalled.
Manning had stayed with him for about a week when Harris left town for a business trip.
“He went radio silent on, I think, the third or fourth day,” Harris said. “I got back to my place downtown and it was just a mess — pizza boxes, beer bottles, the curtains were drawn.”
Harris soon discovered items missing, including his laptop, clothes and his car.
“That’s when I started going through my old things and found that pretty much everything connected to my military past was taken as well,” Harris said. “He got away with literally almost everything — my military service records including discharge papers, medical history, dress blues, service uniforms, flag that flew over Camp Fallujah (Iraq) for the time that I was there, honorable commemorations, my medals of course which are some of the most important things to me.”
Manning was eventually apprehended in Montana and he was eventually convicted of felony theft.
Court and jail records show Manning was sentenced to 1 to 15 years in prison in 2017, but was on parole at the time of his arrest last week.
“I was angry at the justice system, I feel like it’s a huge failure,” Harris said. “I was angry at him. I feel he’s just a piece of work that can’t cooperate with people in society and takes advantage of people.”
Unified Police Sgt. Melody Gray said Tuesday detectives continued to investigate the case.
The boy remained in extremely critical condition as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Gray.
“I hope the courts throw the book at him and he can’t get out to do again what he does best, which is hurt people,” Harris said.
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