UNC Charlotte officials identify woman killed in southwest Charlotte as university professor

Kevin Marlow/WBTV
Kevin Marlow/WBTV
Franklin (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police)
Franklin (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police)
Franklin's vehicle (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police)
Franklin's vehicle (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A woman who was killed in the Ayrsley community in southwest Charlotte Friday morning has been identified as a UNC Charlotte professor, according to school officials Saturday.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said they received a call to do a welfare check at an apartment in the 9300 block of Kings Parade Boulevard around 11:37 a.m. Police said 35-year-old Jeannine Shante Skinner was found inside one of the apartments with "obvious trauma."  Skinner was pronounced dead at the scene, officers say.

CMPD tweeted about the homicide investigation just before 1 p.m. Friday.

On Saturday, school officials with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte said Skinner was an assistant professor of gerontology and psychology in the Department of Psychological Science.

There was no threat to the university, school officials said.

UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip Dubois released this statement Saturday:

"Dr. Skinner joined our faculty two years ago and was known as a well-regarded and dedicated teacher and mentor who fostered an inclusive and open classroom learning environment. She was an active and caring scholar whose research focused on physical, psychological, social, and environmental predictors of cognitive aging, particularly in minority geriatric populations."

Skinner mostly taught undergraduate students but also mentored graduate students at UNCC, colleagues said.

Her colleagues described her as the bright light of the psychology department with an infectious laugh and smile.

"She was growing as a teacher and as a scholar and we were happy to have her here," Eric Heggestad said, who is the interim director for the Department of Psychological Science. "Some of the faculty members noted they were just getting to know her, we're going to miss her."

She was an avid runner that participated in half marathons regularly. She paired her love for running and her love for psychology and gerontology in a grant program.

Skinner used state grant money to create a program from low income, minority seniors who did not have a place to exercise. She found them a place to exercise, in hopes that it would keep them from slipping cognitively.

Skinner was in the process of applying for a national grant to replicate the program in other places around the country.

"We didn't just lose something for the people of Charlotte, we lost someone who was advocating for the psychological cognitive help for people that do not get attention and she was so interested and gung-ho and enthusiastic about improving their lives," Anita Blanchard said, who was Skinner's colleague and a professor of psychological sciences.

"We grieve for Jeannine's family, and we hope that joyful memories of her life will sustain them in the days to come," Dubois said in his statement. "I hope those of you who were her students and colleagues will remember Jeannine for her accomplishments and for the influence she had on your lives."

Just after 10:30 p.m. Friday, police said 45-year-old Donny Lewis Franklin was wanted for murder in Skinner's death. They said Franklin, who should be considered armed and dangerous and possibly suicidal, may be driving a burgundy Jeep with NC plate 0512KN.

CMPD said the incident may have been domestic related.

"We are looking at leads now," said Major Freda Lester. "It appears to be or possibly domestic violence related and we're trying to track down someone she was involved in a relationship with to see if they were involved in this incident."

Heggestad and Blanchard said they did not know anything about her relationship with Franklin. They said they did not know him at all and were surprised she was in an alleged abusive relationship.

If you have any information about the homicide or Franklin's whereabouts, you're asked to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

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