Rowan man found guilty in 2017 murder of woman, sentenced to life in prison

Rowan man found guilty in 2017 murder of woman, sentenced to life in prison
Donald Frye, left, and Sheila Godfrey, right. (Source: Rowan Sheriff's Office)

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - A trial that began with jury selection in the first week of April ended with a guilty verdict on Tuesday.

Donald Frye was found guilty of the murder of acquaintance Sheila Godfrey in a case from April, 2017.

Investigators say Frye and Godfrey were acquainted with each other through a distant family connection that existed at one point.

The report states Godfrey was found lying face down on the kitchen floor of her home with head trauma and a black cord wrapped around her neck.

The autopsy suggests the causes of death were strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head. Warrants released in May, 2017, appear to say the same.

"[Frye] committed this act by means of an assault consisting of having in possession and threatening the use of a dangerous weapon to wit, a blunt object and electrical cord whereby the life of Sheila Godfrey was threatened and endangered," the warrants state.

Godfrey’s car, a white 1987 Chevrolet S10 Blazer, was found at the Super Speedwash on Avalon Drive in Salisbury. Surveillance video showed a white male, later identified as Frye, operating the car. Frye is also accused of stealing Godfrey’s debit card.

"There were pictures of the individual using the stolen credit card and through that, we were able to get information from the public that led to his identification," Chief Deputy David Ramsey said in May.

Police released surveillance photos and say citizens called within hours to identify Frye as the suspect.

"It was absolutely crucial to the investigation and there were both tips received by law enforcement and through Crime Stoppers that led to his identification," Chief Ramsey added.

Deputies went to Frye’s house on May 2, 2017, and made a traffic stop when he left the home early the next morning.

On Tuesday Frye was found guilty of first degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and felony breaking and entering.

Frye was sentenced to life without parole for the 1st degree murder charge, 10 years to 13 years for robbery with dangerous weapon, 9 years to 12 years for breaking & entering.

All of the additional time will run after the life sentence.

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