A look back at the horrific murder of Eddie Werner
On Sept. 27, 1997, 11-year-old Eddie Werner was going door to door near his neighborhood in Jackson, selling candy and wrapping paper for his school’s fundraiser. The final house he went to was the Manzie house, where 15-year-old Sam Manzie was home alone.
Manzie invited Eddie in; Manzie, who did not know Werner, then over a period of 50 minutes molested and strangled him, stuffed his body into a suitcase and hid it until the following day before disposing of the corpse in a wooded area that separates the Manzie and Werner neighborhoods. He also took pictures of Eddie’s corpse with the cord still wrapped around his neck. Police discovered Werner's body two days after his disappearance.
Needless to say, it was a shocking, horrific crime. We took phone calls on the show for weeks from concerned parents and outraged citizens who no longer felt safe in their own neighborhoods. As the story unfolded, it took a twist: Sam Manzie had been molested by a 43 year old Long Island man and Manzie had been recording phone calls with the man as part of a sting operation to help authorities build their case. Probably because of the abuse, Manzie’s personality was said to have changed. He stopped going to school and showed flashes of anger and hostility toward his parents, to the point that they asked a judge to commit their son, but the judge declined, saying that Sam was a “fine boy.”
Three days later, he killed Eddie Werner.
The Manzies came under heavy criticism for leaving Sam home alone while they ran a gambling junket to Atlantic City just days after they told a judge that they were afraid of their son. Against the advice of both his attorney and his parents, Manzie pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to 70 years in prison; he will be eligible for parole after thirty years, when he is 47.
Over 600 people showed up for Eddie’s funeral mass, many of them wearing green ribbons; Eddie’s favorite color.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.