Man pleads guilty to 2014 murder of guidance counselor Maggie Daniels

Man pleads guilty to 2014 murder of guidance counselor Maggie Daniels
Sharmon Odom in court Thursday morning to take a plea deal (Steve Ohnesorge | WBTV)
Sharmon Odom in court Thursday morning to take a plea deal (Steve Ohnesorge | WBTV)

CATAWBA COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - The man accused of killing a popular Catawba County guidance counselor has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in her 2014 death.

Sharmon Odom plead guilty in Catawba County court Thursday morning in the death of Margaret "Maggie" Elizabeth Daniels.

As a part of the deal, Odom will spend life in prison without parole. The deal was offered to Odom several months ago.

Daniels' brother, Chris Daniels, made a statement on behalf of the family following the courtroom proceedings.

"Although our family will never have peace, we are happy to have some closure and know that justice was served for Maggie," Chris Daniels said. "No outcome can bring her back or make right what was stolen from our family. We will hold close the memories that we have and cherish them."

The brother continued, "We wanted to thank the Newton Police Department, the SBI and the District Attorney's office for their time and effort to see this through. We also want to thank all those that knew and loved Maggie, especially our friends and family that have stood by us and helped us through these last two and a half years."

Odom also spoke in court.

"My heart goes out to the Daniels family," Odom said, in part. "Hopefully, this is justice today."

Daniels was killed in June 2014 and her body was found inside her apartment.

Odom was arrested more than a month later and charged with first-degree murder, first-degree sexual offense and first-degree kidnapping in Daniels' death.

At the time of Daniels' death, she and Odom lived in the same apartment complex.

**WARNING: Some of the following information is considered graphic and may not be suitable for all readers**

In a search warrant, officers say they found Daniels' body on the floor of the bedroom inside her apartment on June 28 around 10:30 a.m. Daniels was found wearing only a pair of shorts, with a yellow towel between her feet.

"Several items of furniture in the bedroom were damaged or askew, suggesting a struggle occurred in the bedroom," the probable cause section of the warrant stated. "There were ligature marks on Daniels' neck, suggesting she was strangled."

Investigators say there were no signs of unforced entry into Daniels' apartment, but the front door was unlocked.

An autopsy was performed two days later at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the incident was deemed a homicide.

During the autopsy, the medical examiner completed a sexual assault kit. Tests found the presence of human semen in multiple swabs taken from Daniels.

"Curly hairs, inconsistent with the victim's hair, were located on [Daniels] and throughout the apartment," the warrant states. Some were found between Daniels' fingers.

Investigators say a bottle of "Scrubbing Bubbles" with bleach was found inside Daniels' apartment and there was an unknown stain on her back. Investigators say the bottle was probably used to clean Daniels.

"Odom is a known car detailer and has cleaning chemicals in his work vehicle," the warrant stated.

According to the warrant, a witness told investigators they saw Odom walking between Daniels' apartment and the building next door.  This was around noon the day before investigators found her body.

The witness told investigators he thought it was odd because he'd never seen Odom there before.

Odom told the man that he was walking back from an auto repair shop near the apartments after checking on the progress of his van.

About five hours later, a woman told investigators she saw a man, matching Odom's description, walking from the back of Daniels' apartment towards the front of the building. She said she'd never seen him there before.

The woman told investigators she was out walking with her children and they were all sweating because it was hot outside, but she noticed that Odom was not sweating when she saw him.

Investigators say the temperature the day Daniels was killed was 87 degrees and the auto repair shop Odom claimed he was at was along the 1900 block of Northwest Boulevard, which is a mile away from Daniels' apartment.

The owner of the auto shop says Odom's van was towed to his shop on Friday and picked up on Saturday, but Odom did not stop by on Friday. Odom claimed he was waiting at the repair shop for four hours.

Several witnesses told investigators that Odom, who was "frequently 'in and out' of the area," changed his behavior after Daniels' death.

Investigators noted that surveillance of Odom showed he would stay in his apartment for what appeared to be lengthy periods and he would leave the area for days at a time.

Odom's neighbor told investigators that Odom had mentioned Daniels numerous times in the past, saying that she was very attractive and he wanted to "get with" her.

According to the witness, Odom had shown him photos of Daniels from her Instagram and Twitter accounts about six weeks before her death.

Odom reportedly told the man that Daniels' had a boyfriend that only came into the area on the weekends.

The neighbor told investigators that he spoke with Odom frequently and that Odom appeared to know the habits of other women as well, making statements like "that girl lives by herself."

Another man told police that Odom had once asked him if Daniels "dated black men" and once he found out that Daniels had a boyfriend said " it didn't matter.

The neighbor described Odom as "creepy," saying he would often sit in his vehicle, with the ignition off, from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. looking at an electronic device.

The mother of Daniels' boyfriend said she had seen Odom staring at Daniels while she was sunbathing.

She told investigators that she and Daniels often took walks in the evenings and Odom was often outside his apartment when they were walking and would stare at them, making them uncomfortable.

Daniels' boyfriend was in South Carolina at the time of her death.

When questioned by investigators, Odom denied in association with Daniels and said he'd only spoken to her in passing. He also told investigators that he'd never been inside her apartment.

An investigator noted in the search warrant that, during his first interview with investigators, Odom had a patch of hair missing from the front of his head. The investigator believed the patch was the result of a struggle.

Investigators say they took DNA samples from multiple people in the investigation and Odom is the only one who refused "stating he did not trust law enforcement."

During the autopsy, investigators found white hairs that were between two and four inches long on her body.

Investigators say Daniels did not have any pets, but her mentor did have a pair of dogs that Daniels frequently played with.

According to the warrant, while they were searching Odom's apartment, officers found a "wet, rectangular, cardboard box with clumps of wet hair" on the back porch. They say it appeared a vacuum cleaner was dumped in the box and left outside.

The hairs in the box matched the hairs that were on Daniels' body, investigators say.

Odom has twice been charged with rape in Mecklenburg County, once in 2010 and another time in 2012. In both cases, Odom was charged with rape, strangulation and common law robbery.

RELATED ARTICLE: Woman says man accused of killing Maggie Daniels attacked her

In October 2010, he was charged with kidnapping, first-degree burglary and robbery with a dangerous weapon.

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