In February 2024, Deadline announced that Magic Mike star Channing Tatum would be dancing himself over to the true crime genre. Simply titled Roofman, the upcoming movie follows the exploits of Jeffrey Manchester whose various crimes sound like the whimsical choices of a child. They involve McDonald's, Circuit City, and Toys "R" Us, which is a real blast from the past. There are also some mildly dangerous aspects that contribute to a wild story. Where is the real Jeffrey Manchester now? Let's get into it.
Where is Jeffrey Manchester now? Back in prison.
As of the time of this writing, Manchester is housed at Central Prison in Raleigh, N.C. His total incarceration term is 47 years, 2 months, and 15 days with a projected release date of Dec. 4, 2036. Because his list of infractions are all over the place, Distractify called Central Prison to make sure this was the right guy. The woman we spoke with confirmed this was the man who would later be known as the Roofman. When we told her about the movie, she laughed saying Manchester is a "real character."
His last infraction occurred on April 1, 2020. Naturally the Central Prison employee couldn't reveal what he had done, but she did say the movie will undoubtedly be very entertaining. She's not wrong, as Manchester's criminal history is already the stuff of motion pictures. In April 2000, the Los Angeles Times wrote about his many crimes but could only call him Roofman because he was still on the loose.
Since November 1998, Manchester had robbed "businesses in Nevada, Oregon, Minnesota, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Massachusetts," as well as California. He mostly focused on McDonald's which made an official from the company describe him as a real-life Hamburglar.
"He’s very brand loyal, a loyal customer. And we work hard to build that loyalty," they said.
How was Jeffrey Manchester caught the first time?
Manchester earned his nickname based on how he entered each establishment — through the roof of course. He would then lie in wait for employees to open up the McDonald's. Most of his victims said Manchester was very friendly, and often made jokes while ushering them into a giant freezer. It wasn't all fun and games though as he was usually armed, and occasionally fired his gun to keep people in line. He also once pistol-whipped a young employee, but their injuries were not severe.
He was eventually arrested in May 2000, reported the SF Gate, which is when authorities were able to piece together his activities. Manchester was an Army reservist whose "military assignments corresponded with the movement of the crime spree." A lengthy prison sentence of 45 years was handed to Manchester, who was serving time at Brown Creek Correctional Institution in Polkton, N.C. until he escaped on June 15, 2004.
Jeffrey Manchester ended up living in a Toys "R" Us and an abandoned Circuit City.
They say stick to what you know, and Manchester knew how to break into businesses. After escaping from prison, he made his way to Charlotte, N.C., a mere 45 miles from Polkton, where he hunkered down in a Toys "R" Us. Sgt. Katherine Scheimreif of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C. police told the SF Gate that, "At night, he was a fugitive hiding and playing ... making his lair in a cubbyhole in the bicycle display, racing remote-control cars on the roof after hours and riding bikes around the store for exercise."
During the day, Manchester was just like anyone else. He attended church and even got himself a girlfriend. When the holiday season brought more crowds to the Toys "R" Us, Manchester moved next door into an abandoned Circuit City. "In a cubicle he built of sheetrock under a stairwell, he painted the walls, put up posters and action figures, mounted a toy basketball hoop and watched Spiderman and other movies on a DVD player," said Sgt. Scheimreif.
A botched Dec. 26 robbery of the Toys "R" Us is what led authorities to identify Manchester. When they figured out who his girlfriend was, they enlisted her help. Leigh Wainscott "agreed to cooperate with police and arranged for Manchester to come to her home on Jan. 5 for her 40th birthday," where police were waiting. "I don't hate him," Wainscott said. "I'm disappointed and confused. I don't know whether to smack him or hug him." Insert the McDonald's theme music here when we say, she wasn't lovin' it.