Deadly arson suspect Joseph Manners of Edgewood, Ky. charged - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Deadly arson suspect in high-speed chase formally charged


The suspect wanted in a deadly arson case in South Carolina and later arrested after a high speed chase through the Tri-State returned to the southern state to face murder charges.

On June 1, members of the Sumter County Sheriff's Office in South Carolina responded to reports of a fire with the possibility of entrapment. Upon arrival, the building was discovered to be fully engulfed in flames. 

After the fire was distinguished, firefighters discovered two sets of human remains who were later identified as 79-year-old Joann Topper and 68-year-old James William Topper.

A witness reported to law enforcement that they saw a small white car leaving the scene of the fire at a high rate of speed.

Law enforcement was able to determine that the homeowners had three vehicles in their names. Only two of the three vehicles were parked at the residence. 

The third vehicle was a white Honda Accord.

Law enforcement sent out a teletype message to multiple departments to be on the lookout for a white Honda Accord. Authorities believed that the vehicle was driven by 20-year-old Joseph Manners, originally from Edgewood, Ky.

Manners is the grandson of Joann Topper in South Carolina.

Around 7:30 the next morning, Erlanger police spotted the vehicle on Turkeyfoot Road near Old Turkeyfoot. Officers followed the vehicle as additional units responded to assist.

However, the vehicle fled and was pursued by Erlanger and Elsmere officers through Florence and onto Northbound I-75 at speeds excess of 100 mph.

Upon crossing the bridge into Cincinnati and onto westbound U.S. Highway 50, officers lost sight of the vehicle. Cincinnati officers eventually located the vehicle again.

Manners fled the vehicle on foot and was later apprehended by authorities.

An autopsy revealed James Topper died of blunt force trauma to the head and Joann died of smoke inhalation from the fire.

Manners had been living with James and Joann for the past several months,  deputies say. According to WISTV, authorities were called to the home previously to investigate a report of domestic violence, but the grandmother did not press charges in the incident.

On Monday, Manners waived extradition, returning back to Sumter, South Carolina, and was formally charged with two counts of murder, one count of arson, one count of grand larceny.

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