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Man faces charges in girlfriend's killing

Carmella "Millie'' Manning's body was found in Tennessee's Jackson County, where the couple recently had moved.

By JAMIE MALERNEE

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 26, 2001


A Brooksville man is accused of killing his girlfriend, who was found shot in the head near her Tennessee home last week.

Ronald George West, 58, of 8200 Winter St. was taken into custody Friday by officials from the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.

According to authorities, West and 68-year-old Carmella "Millie" Manning had lived together in Hudson for a couple of years but recently moved to Jackson County, Tenn., where Manning owned land. On May 18, a jogger found her body on a logging track about 5 miles from her new home.

It appeared that she had been shot elsewhere and then dumped on the trail, said Buck Chambers, assistant district attorney for the Jackson County area. The logging track is near a main highway. Manning had been dead for at least two days, Chambers said.

Chambers and Jackson sheriff's officials refused to discuss details of the killing or a motive.

Records show, however, that West had a history of violence. He was sentenced to five years in an Oregon prison in a 1988 sex abuse case. The case was rated a level 1 charge, which is the most serious in Oregon. No further details were available Friday.

Records show that since then, West hopped back and forth between Oregon and Florida, where he lived with Manning at 9502 Gene St. in Hudson. He spent enough time here to be arrested on multiple occasions between 1991 and 1997. During that time, he pleaded no contest to grand theft, criminal mischief and battery. He was also picked up several times for violating his probation and had to be extradited to Oregon. He was last released from an Oregon facility in 1998.

Originally, authorities said West was not a suspect in Manning's shooting but was wanted for questioning because they had been living together.

After Manning's death, West returned to Florida and moved to the Brooksville residence. On Friday, Jackson authorities questioned West in Hernando County and took him back to Tennessee in shackles.

Manning's cousin, Kathleen Hartigan of Connecticut, said the family is in shock. Manning's son and daughter had begun to worry because they had not heard from their mother in several days, but they never suspected violence.

Hartigan described Manning as a devoted mother and an intelligent businesswoman. Throughout her life, Manning owned several businesses, ran restaurants and sold antiques, Hartigan said.

"She was a very independent person who, no matter what, got the job done," she said. "She was a very loving person."

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