Born in New York City during 1927, Manuel was the son of British parents who returned to England five years later. He logged his first arrest, for burglary, at Coventry in October 1939, drawing a term of probation. Five weeks later, he was packed off to reform school on a charge of housebreaking. Manuel escaped to commit more thefts, and by 1942 he had been returned to the school eleven times. He committed his first sexual offense - an indecent assault on the wife of a school employee - shortly before Christmas 1942. Jailed for that offense in March 1943, he was released two years later. In March 1946, he was convicted on 15 counts of housebreaking and sentenced to prison; while serving his time, Manuel was also convicted of rape , with eight more years appended to his sentence. Released in 1953, he was briefly engaged, the relationship broken off after he mailed his fiancee an anonymous letter , detailing his criminal record . On January 4, 1956, 17-year-old Anne Kneilands was found on a golf course at East Kilbride, south of Glasgow, her skull crushed by heavy blows. Although her clothing had been disarranged, there was no evidence of rape. Manuel was questioned in the case, as an habitual criminal, but he was released with no charges filed. On September 17, 1956, Lanarkshire resident William Watt returned from a fishing trip to find his wife, their 16-year-old daughter, and a visiting sister-in-law murdered at his home, each shot through the head as they slept. Held for two months as a suspect in the massacre, Watt was finally released for lack of evidence. Ironically, he had been jailed with Peter Manuel, then serving time on an October burglary conviction that kept him behind bars until December 1957. On December 20, 1957, 17-year-old Isabelle Cooke disappeared from her home in Mount Vernon. Nine days later, Peter Smart, his wife and 11-year-old son were found dead in their home at Uddingston, each shot through the head as they slept. Reckless spending led to Manuel's arrest on burglary charges, and he was charged with the Smart murders in January 14, 1958. Two days later he signed confessions to eight homicides spanning the past two years, leading police to the buried remains of Isabelle Cooke, near her home. Despite the confessions, Manuel mounted a spirited defense at his murder trial, in May 1958. Convicted on all counts, he was sentenced to die for his crimes, and he mounted the gallows on July 11.