The late Lelia Manning.
PHILIPSBURG--The family of the late Lelia Manning-Henry, who was murdered in her family home in Point Blanche on May 29, 2022, has received no news about the investigation into the early morning burglary that cost the life of the 86-year-old victim. Her next of kin call on the community to help prevent this murder investigation from becoming a cold case.
“It’s been more than a year since my mom’s murder and still no leads in the case. Despite providing the detectives with names, places of employment of the potential suspects, nothing has been done to make an arrest or bring the persons in for questioning,” said Manning’s daughter Elizabeth Stubblefield.
Two men broke into the family home on Trush Road in Point Blanche around 5:00am Sunday, May 29, 2022. Manning-Henry and her husband, retired Judge of Instruction Wilfred Manning, woke up to the noise in their house. Moments later the cherished wife and mother was dead.
Initial reports from authorities spoke of a death due to natural causes. Manning-Henry was believed to have suffered a massive heart attack when she saw her husband, who is blind, being assaulted by the robbers. However, autopsy findings showed that the kind-hearted, warm-spirited woman, known to many in the community as the founder of the Jack & Jill Playschool, had died from unnatural causes.
Four weeks after the fatal robbery, the Prosecutor's Office OM SXM announced that it had launched an investigation. The case was officially labelled a murder investigation. A year later, no suspects have been identified, leaving the family with the impression that the case is far from being resolved.
“I am perplexed at the notion that on this island that is only 37.5 square miles a case like this would go cold,” said Stubblefield. “It leads me to question that perhaps there is an undercurrent of silence, or perhaps systemic issues in the justice system that get in the way.”
Whatever the case may be, the facts remain, Stubblefield said. “My mom was murdered, valuable information was provided to authorities and the killers are still on the loose.”
The Point Blanche community is not safe until the case is resolved, she said. “Family and friends will not have closure and the community at large will live with a sense of being unsafe in their homes.”
The Manning family posted their plea online and added the hashtag #justiceforlelia, with a request to share it on social media.
The family calls on anyone who has information about possible perpetrators, who saw anything remarkable on Sunday, May 29, 2022, or heard or saw anything that may be relevant to the investigation, to report it to the police. This can be done anonymously by calling 9300.
The general number of St. Maarten Police Force KPSM is 542-2222, and for the detective department choose extension 175,176,177, or 106.
The Manning family is asking for your prayers and support during this difficult time. The victim’s daughter said: “Please pray for a swift and just resolution of this case, for strength and fortitude for my dad and family through this challenging time.”