Police: Man sets woman on fire, threatens to kill child before chase with officers

Suspect hospitalized after kidnapping a child, leading police on a chase and burning a woman

OLIVE BRANCH, Miss. (WMC) - Police in Olive Branch and Memphis are investigating a disturbing case that spans the two cities. Police said a man led Memphis Police on a chase to Olive Branch, and once police got there they found out he had also set a woman on fire.

Jeremy Manning, 42, is being charged with attempted murder, two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, kidnapping, child endangerment and arson with a total bond set at $1.3 million. His court date is pending the disposition of charges by the Memphis Police Department and extradition.

Man threatened to kill child before leading officers on chase, police say

“I smelled smoke thinking a house was on fire,” Rodney Sesson said.

When Rodney Sesson got back to his home in the Chateau Ridge neighborhood around 3 a.m. Tuesday morning he found out what was really happening down the road. He was told his second cousin was set on fire by her boyfriend -- a man Sesson has known for decades.

“I was told she was burned unrecognizable,” Sesson said.

“We know she has second and third degree burns,” Olive Branch Police Chief Don Gammage said.

Gammage said officers got a call from Methodist Olive Branch Hospital around 2:50 a.m. that a woman had been set on fire. Unbeknownst to Memphis Police, they would soon come in to contact with the man police believe set her on fire.

The chase began on Winchester Road when an officer was approached by a man in a white Cadillac. Police said Manning told the officer he would kill the child in his car if he couldn’t use a phone. Manning then took off before the officer could approach his car.

“He made a comment to the officer about how [he] needed to use the cell phone or [he] was going to kill a child inside the car,” Memphis Police Lt. Karen Rudolph said.

Sesson says Manning asked for a gun but he was denied. He then went outside to get some gas. The victim suffered first and second degree burns.

Police believe Manning set his girlfriend on fire, took the woman’s niece from the home, left with the child and headed toward Memphis. Memphis Police said Manning made the threatening comments about the child in the area of Winchester and Riverdale.

Police say a man set his girlfriend on fire and took off with her niece, then threatened to kill her as he led officers on a chase. (Source: MPD)
Police say a man set his girlfriend on fire and took off with her niece, then threatened to kill her as he led officers on a chase. (Source: MPD)

The suspect then left, and eventually led police on a chase back to a home on Tacoma Place in Olive Branch where police said the woman was originally set on fire.

Memphis Police said they lost sight of him in the neighborhood until he came up on the officers again.

“The suspect came around the corner and rammed into the squad car,” Rudolph said. “That caused one squad car to go into the back of another squad car.”

Both officers in the car were taken to the hospital in non-critical condition. The cruiser received significant damage to the back bumper.

Police said during the chase Manning threw the 3-year-old out on a nearby street. Police found her unharmed. She has since been reunited with her mother.

Officers chased Manning down on foot and were able to take him into custody sometime near 3:30 a.m.

Police said Manning and his girlfriend ended up at Regional One leaving countless neighbors who know them both wondering how this all could have happened.

“Thirty, forty years he ain’t never cause no problems,” Sesson said. “Him and my nephew run a lawn service together. And I just never knew him to do nothing like this. Never.”

Memphis Police say the suspect is being evaluated for drug usage after he told officers he had ingested narcotics.

Copyright 2019 WMC. All rights reserved.