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Local News

Couple Charged With Abuse Back In Escambia County

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Escambia County Jail
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An Okaloosa County couple working as paramedics are charged with sex offenses against a juvenile, along with a pair of Escambia County deputies, and are now in the Escambia County Jail pending a bond hearing.

Leah and Douglas Manning were extradited from Fremont County, Colorado and brought back to Pensacola Saturday. They were arrested Thursday afternoon at a campground near Florence, Colorado, south of Denver,  after two weeks at-large.

Working within some regional law enforcement task force agreements, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said they contacted authorities in Fremont County, Colorado as to the Mannings’ whereabouts.

“The folks literally went out and set up camp and kept them under surveillance for a little bit,” Morgan said. “And then the following day they moved in and made the arrest.”

Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan credits numerous local tips and heavy use of social media such as Facebook, for helping locate the couple.

“Once they made it up into Colorado, we had some tips very early on that they were there,” said Morgan. “It wasn’t that difficult, oddly enough, to start narrowing it down.”

Each of the Mannings is charged individually with lewd and lascivious conduct involving a child. Morgan says investigators found more than 100,000 images and videos related to the case on their computer.

The alleged victims told investigators the couple was sexually active with multiple partners. State Attorney Bill Eddins says he’ll assign prosecutors to the case who are connected with Gulf Coast Kids House, which serves child abuse victims in the Pensacola area. 

“My special prosecutors in this case will be Ann Patterson and one of the other assistant state attorneys that are assigned to Gulf Coast Kids’ House,” said Eddins. “In addition, I will assign a victim advocate that specializes in dealing with child victims.”

The other part of the case involves two Escambia County deputies. Mark Smith and Walter Thomas are charged with felony sexual assault on a minor over the age of 12. Smith faces an additional charge of misdemeanor battery. Thomas is free on $150,000 bond; Smith remains in the Escambia County Jail with bond set at $170,000. Both deputies are on unpaid administrative leave.

According to the arrest report, the relationship between them and the Mannings began when Leah Manning worked as an EMT in the Escambia County Jail.