Suspect named in murder of ex-school official

David Lawrence has been charged with murder and related offenses in the slaying of retired Philadelphia School District principal Ennis Kirby Manns. — SUBMITTED PHOTO

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled today for a man accused of murdering a former Philadelphia School District official in what investigators believe was a drug related dispute.

Over the summer, homicide detectives began piecing together the motive behind the beating death of Ennis Kirby Manns, a former Philadelphia School District principal, who was found inside a West Philadelphia apartment house on July 1st.

Several days later, police arrested a suspect, identified as David Lawrence of the 5100 block of Market Street. Lawrence has been charged with murder, robbery, auto theft and related offenses. Court documents show he has a history of run-ins with police and was found guilty of robbery in 1992. He was sentenced to serve a minimum of five years.

The slaying of Ennis Kirby Manns was one of five homicides over the July 4th holiday weekend that unfortunately kicked the number of murders in the city to 167. Manns was found bleeding from his head on July 1st when police responded to the report of a robbery in progress at 6:25 p.m. at 19 North 50th Street.

When officers arrived at the scene they found Mann bleeding from a head wound. He was unresponsive and he was rushed to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He was pronounced dead at 7:09 p.m.

According to Capt. James Clark of the Homicide Unit, Manns was visiting a friend at the North 50th Street location, a small apartment building, when he got into an argument with Lawrence.

“The victim was visiting a friend in the building, which is like a triplex apartment. He got into an argument with the resident of the first floor and the argument escalated into a physical confrontation,” Clark said. “The suspect grabbed a piece of railing and just beat the man to death.”

Investigators report that the incident was drug related and was sparked by an argument over money that escalated to Manns’ death and subsequent robbery. Investigators also report that Manns and the suspect knew each other and that there was drug usage before the argument.

Manns retired from the District in September 2010 and last served as the assistant principal of East Washington Rhodes High School from July 2009 to September 2010.

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