More on Trinity Man Arrested in Florida Cold Case–Details on the Death of “Little Missy” and the Capture of the Suspect

Cato Marion2A Trinity County man, Rodney Manley, was extradited to Florida yesterday in connection with a 15-year-old cold case–the homicide of Marion Louise Cato, battered to death and partially buried behind a motel.

A story posted a short time after her death in the St. Petersburg Times gives a sense of her life,

She was known as “little Missy” in some of the roughest parts of Clearwater.Marion Louise Cato, 31, was familiar to people at the coin laundry, bars and motels in the area of town known as the gateway. That’s where she was found dead Friday, killed by someone who left her body on a dirt path behind a cheap motel.

“We don’t know who (killed her) or why,” said Clearwater police Sgt. Doug Griffith. “She was living from motel to motel to motel. She’d just been evicted from one.”

According to the article, Cato was tiny–only 4’11” with a rich southern accent. She had three children, a “a 14-year-old boy and two girls, 6 and  3 years old.” For 15 years, her case was unsolved. Recently a new detective with the Clearwater Police was handed the case and submitted evidence to a lab that led to Manley’s arrest. Below is the press release provided by the Clearwater police.

Clearwater Police have charged a 61-year-old California man with first-degree murder in the slaying of a woman 15 years ago this month.

Rodney Dean Manley (DOB 7-16-53) was taken into custody on Wednesday by homicide detectives who traveled to Weaverville, Calif., where the suspect now resides. Manley is currently being held in the Trinity County Jail awaiting extradition.

Manley was charged in the slaying of Marion Cato, whose body was found April 28, 2000, next to what was then the Rio Hotel at 1488 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd. Cato, 31, died from upper body trauma.

“This arrest shows what a new set of eyes and dogged determination can mean to a cold case like this,” said Police Chief Dan Slaughter. “For 15 years, our suspect thought he got away with murder. Our detectives made sure that wasn’t the case.”

Chief Slaughter lauded the work of Detective John Margnelli, who recently was handed the Cato case as a new member of the homicide squad. Margnelli is the detective who submitted the piece of evidence to the lab.

Chief Slaughter also thanked the Pinellas/Pasco Forensics Laboratory, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Latent Fingerprint Identification Section, the California Highway Patrol and the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office in California for their assistance in the case.

Homicide detectives, as part of their continued re-examination of cold-case homicides based upon a National Institute of Justice grant, worked closely with representatives of the Pinellas/Pasco Forensics Laboratory, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Latent Fingerprint Identification Section, and the Pinellas/Pasco State Attorney’s Office, to take another look at physical evidence collected during the investigation. Exhaustive testing by the Pinellas/Pasco Forensics Laboratory ultimately identified DNA from the crime scene as Manley’s. He lived in Pinellas County at the time and had been arrested on several occasions.

During questioning on Wednesday in California, Manley made several admissions to investigators relating to his role in this incident.




  • Battered that tiny little woman to death, I’m glad the monster will be brought to justice.

  • Donette Hightower

    Missy was my aunt and I just want to say Thank you to everyone who has helped bring her peace. She can finally rest now. I also want to say Thank you for not forgetting about her and even though it has been 15 years, we never gave up hope that this day would come. Now the question is Why did you kill her?

    • Please send Kym a more flattering picture if you have one. I’m sure Missy an her family would appreciate being remembered in a positive light!

    • I was going to say something the other day, but didn’t. Yet, I could not help but try and answer your question. Perhaps this will help in some small way. I have known Rod for the last 3+ years, since I moved into a trailer park in the area. I remember my first impression of him, as he put on the tough guy/hard case act when someone introduced him to me. In a way he was a likeable character when first met. He is a bit short for a man, and definitely has the small guy complex, big time. This probably relates in part to why he was so brutal in killing your aunt, as it probably made him feel like a big man at the time.

      He is an alcoholic and also uses other drugs at times. The only thing that matters to him in life was having enough beer and getting more beer and cigarettes. He was always trying to borrow money from everyone and anyone for that reason. Later on, I could see that he was also into scamming others for money, if he thought that he had the right weak victim. He didn’t care for anyone but himself and his beer at the end of the day. One day I pissed him off by filling in on a mechanic job which he had been struggling with. The owner gave me the go ahead to finish the job. Rod came by as I was working to tell me that I was taking his money from him. He then made a semi threat by stating that in the old days he would have just shot me. That is how he was. He finally moved to another location. Some months later after eating a meal at home, I had an episode that felt like a cross between a stroke and a brain seizure. Only by the grace of God given inner strength which I possess did I survive that. The left side of my face centered around my ear was numb all the way till January of this year, when my body finally repaired the damage. I never spoke of this incident to anyone. Shortly after this happened I ran into him, and the first thing he said to me was how he had been to see his doctor and was told that he had had a medium stroke. Right away, I knew what he was fishing for so I didn’t say anything regarding what I had experienced. The next 3 times I ran into him, he brought up the subject of his stroke every time. I still did not respond to his fishing question, but I knew from the first time that he was the one responsible for what happened to me. That is he how is, a real backstabber.

      Now everyone knows the full truth regarding his true character. It was unfortunate that your aunt crossed paths with this man. She did not deserve what happened to her. My condolences to you and your family members for your loss. Now you get to have your justice, and that is good. I understand that Florida has the death penalty. That is also a good thing, even if it only leads to his dying in prison at some time in the future. He deserves every bit of that.

    • Eva Hightower Langley

      Yes sister finally got him! I’ve had so many mixed emotions about this. I want to be at his court cases, but FL is far away. I’m gonna see what we can do about being skyped in since we live in TN

      • regarding the attached photo, that is St Theresa of Avila an ancestor of my family line.

      • Heather Lynn Hodgson

        My name is Heather Lynn Hodgson.
        I live in Clearwater Florida and Missy was a good friend of mine she lived with me and slept in my house tonight before she died I was with her the morning too she died that night I was not there I am going to the trial on Monday November 6th 2017 I am a witness for the state’s attorney against the man who killed her if you have any questions you can call me or email me 727-657-7771

    • Heather Lynn Hodgson

      Rodney Dean Manley was given life for the murder of your sister and was found guilty on November 6th 2017

  • Eva Hightower Langley

    This Lil lady was my Aunt Missy. Thank God he has been caught. For many years we prayed and never gave up! We knew there was a killer on the run and he had to be caught!!! After 15 years ago this month, the Monster is caught!!! Thank u lord!!!! Anger and hurt come upon me as I look at this creature! My grandmother passed this last Aug, but she would be so happy to k ow that he was caught. No sentence will be good enough for me. I just want her back!! Thanks so much to the new detective that caught this. RIP aunt Missy!!! I love you! Eva aka Red

    • So very sorry about your aunt, I do know this Manley, he was married to my cousin, he beat her a lot, very violent person. If I had a way to contact you I would let you know of dates. I hope he gets the worst punishment out there. Again I am so sorry your family ever had to go thru all this. If you want to talk to me my email is, hopefully it goes thru to you

    • That is my biological father

    • Heather Lynn Hodgson

      Rodney Dean Manley was found guilty of the murder of Missy on November 6th 2017

  • I don’t know how it works in Florida but in California as a victim you are entitled to some help. Here is the email address for the Clerk of the Court.

    Tell them who you are and ask for assistance. Here’s a link for victim’s rights.

  • Could you please explain who the photograph is of?

    • The woman is the victim.

      • Thank you. Usually the police mugshot accompanying a story like this is of the perp. I was about to say something inappropriate about this guy Manley, especially given there are family members of the victim reading this story. My condolences to the family and I share your relief of closure.

  • Donette Hightower

    Thank You all for your condolences. Also for posting her picture. My heart is still broken but my mind is at ease for the 1st time in years, because I know Aunt Missy is finally resting in peace. I have a lot of anger towards Manly and I know God will make him pay for what he has done but at the same time I can’t help but think of what his family is going through. Aunt Missy’s death was a horrible tragedy for us. Our lives will never be the same. So we will do our best to carry on day by day. The rest is in God’s hands now.

    • Heather Lynn Hodgson

      My name is Heather Lynn Hodgson
      I live in Clearwater Florida Missy is my friend and she lived with me I was with her 24 hours before she died and the morning of her death I was not there when it happened of course I am going on Monday November 6th 2017 to be a witness for the state’s attorney prosecution against the man who killed Missy if you have any questions call me at 727-657-7771

  • I am so glad he was caught so Missy’s family can have some closure. I really feel for her children, they were so young and have had to grow up without a mother. It is hard enough in this life without wondering who killed your mom and why you are alone. Poor babies.

  • I’m so sorry for your lost I was married to this low life 25years i t was pure hell I got my ass beat all the time I work he did not we have 4 boys together he told them I was. No good left me with them no food that’s when Ihad to get a job again iI’m sorry hope gets life

    • Carol, You are telling half of the truth, Alcohol was consumed by both you. Just like this young girl was a drug addict, prostitute who deserved to live. There is a consequence to addictive behaviors. Dont mistake my comment, no one deserves to die but the end result of drinking, substance abuse and prostitution is not good. What about innocent until proven guilty. We dont know what took place, who was there and so let the facts be brought forth. I ask myself where were little missy’s children at the time ? Where were mr manleys children ?

      Carol, your not so innocent, I was family. I saw many behaviors, too. Two people who meet in federal prison are pretty crazy to marry. I am sorry for your pain. Time has a way of distorting events.

    • He already has. And has got the death penalty

    • Heather Lynn Hodgson

      My name is Heather Lynn Hodgson I live in Clearwater Florida Missy was my roommate and lived with me and was with me 24 hours before she died I am going to the mister Manley’s trial on Monday November 6th 2017 to be a witness for the state’s attorney prosecution I don’t know if anything you have to say would be relevant to our side of the case of course I am on the side of Missy you can call me if you want to 727-657-7771

  • Missy was my aunt. I too, am a drug addict, but I’m also a mother of four, and grandmother of a little boy named Jacob. I’m highly enraged by the comments about Missy being a drug addict, prostitute. I don’t care if you live the “Christian” life, in church every time the doors open, when you met your husband, went out to eat, he bought you flowers, paid for your meal, you slept with him, he bought you. As for the drug addict, know what addiction is. You have to drink a cup of coffee every morning to get your day going? You have an addiction. An addiction doesn’t have to be directly on drugs. Please people, gain knowledge of words you plan to use before you chose to use them.Missy was a mother, an aunt, a daughter. My grandmother went to meet her maker, never knowing who, or why her baby was taken away from her. That was a pain I seen in my grandmother’s eyes until I could no longer see into her eyes. No matter your hurtful comments, Missy was loved by many, missed by many, and wilm be mourned forever.

    • Teresa Martin Graves

      I am Missy’s sister. Our family knows well the mistakes that Missy made in her life and what it cost her. We are the ones that buried her at such a young age because this man choose to beat her to death, and then beat her some more. Her murder was violent, and an overkill. Only a monster would do something like this and drugs is no excuse for this behavior. I miss my sister every day and have for 15 years. I loved her as did our whole family. Missys children at the time was with their fathers and family members being well cared for. My sister was the youngest of 4 children and my mother mourned her baby until her dying day as we all will. This monster got away with this for 15 years, that was 15 years that he should have spent in prison instead of out partying and hell raising. At his age he won’t live long enough to do the amount of time he should for what he did but hopefully he will never be free again. Thank you to the detective and others that finally closed this case and gave us the closure we have needed for so long now. All the negative comments can’t hurt us or Missy anymore, and we thank you all for the positive ones. As for Missy, she has a family that will love and miss her forever and no one needs to try to judge her.

    • Heather Lynn Hodgson

      Thank you for your post this means a lot to a lot of people and you sound like a wonderful person and God bless you

    • Heather Lynn Hodgson

      Rodney D Manley was found guilty of the murder of Missy on November 6th 2017

  • I am one of manleys daughter in laws I’ve only met him a couple of times. He was definitely one to leave an impression. I am so sorry for your loss I can’t believe he could do something so violent but he obviously did. His children are defistated by what he has done they feel for the victims family but are also dealing with the fact that they could lose their dad also. No one deserves to have to go thru the pain of losing a parent. They didn’t know what their dad had done. My prayers go out to all ppl involved.

  • This Lil lady, is my Aunt Missy. I miss her everyday. I hear they are trying to give this man the death penalty, but after walking free for 15 years, how could he possibly have lived with himself that long, knowing he killed a small woman who couldn’t hurt him with his own hands. I think he should get a lot more than an easy, fast peaceful death, but God will, in time, take care of this. This MANLEY guy committed a horrible, scary, sad, and fierce crime. Sorry to his family, but he did this. She did nothing, I don’t care how she was labeled, I know the relationship we had and I know the woman she was comma no drug on this Earth can change how I feel about her addiction happens every day there is no excuse for this Behavior I laid in bed many many nights wondering who killed my Aunt Missy comma and I prayed and prayed and prayed and yes it was a long 15 years, but now they have him. I’m 31 years old, she was 31 when she passed away or when she was brutally beaten to death, you have no idea the pain that brings me knowing if I was to die today and leave my kids husband and family because some man chose to murder me 31 years old was way too young to die comma I have no words to explain what I feel in my heart. When they called this creature I had nightmares and I still do I keep up with what’s going on and from what I hear he actually wrote the judge a letter about being cold, are you serious? I just think about my aunt body laying there Beat to Death buried and I can imagine the dance if she suffered so if all he’s going through is being a little cold or eating nasty food I think he’s got it made I think he should be beaten to death but it’s not the old days that’s just my thoughts on it any way to all the negative comments please keep them to yourself to everyone who sent condolences thank you. He’s been in jail for quite a while now and I have high hopes that he will never get out and that he will die, and I know it may be wrong because I am a Christian woman but I want to see him die and miserable death as she had to, I know that’s probably not going to happen but that would be my Justice if I could choose it. I love her I miss her she was a very special part of me and she loves me unconditionally I want you my grandmother and my whole family for that matter so first home Hutch when she passed we all suffered, my mother who is her sister passed away New Year’s day of this year 2017 I know she is up there in heaven with my Aunt Missy and my grandmother who passed away in August of 2000 14 this is hard for me to even talk about and I don’t even know where I’m going with this comment I just had to leave one. Please be in prayers for our family because we need them. I must admit yes it brought peace to my heart to know this man is off the street but also brought back all the pain hurt anger and resentment and I have just keep praying about that but once we day I’ll see my aunt and her new body and her new creation she will not be beating your bruised she will not be swollen so bad that we only recognized her by Tatu she will be the beautiful young woman that she wants was before this man destroyed her and killed her thank you and respect to all who have left and nice comment

  • I met rodney in jail he was telling me about this case but he dident mention it was a woman I’m sorry for your loss and hope he gets what he’s done to her GOD BLESS

  • Test is my biological father. I am his son. I am 16 years old. He abused my sister and I. So my grandfather and grandmother adopted my sister and. Now we are living a better life

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