New details released in 'brutal' killing of Rowan County woman

New details released in 'brutal' killing of Rowan County woman

ROWAN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - New details were released Friday in what police call a "brutal murder" that happened in Rowan County in late April.

Officials released the autopsy results of 53-year-old Sheila Godfrey, who was found dead in her home on Lyerly Pond Road on April 28. Police arrested 50-year-old Donald Lee Frye, a convicted sex offender from Kannapolis, and charged him with murder five days later.

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

The report released Friday 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 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 Thursday night. 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 and made a traffic stop when he left the home early the next morning.

Frye was charged with first-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon. He is being held at the Rowan County Detention Center without bond.

Police say they recovered evidence from Frye's house. That evidence has not yet been released.

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