Warrant: 'Selfie' may have implicated man in teacher's death

Published: Aug. 5, 2014 at 10:23 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 2, 2014 at 5:48 PM EDT
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NEWTON, NC (WBTV) - Police have revealed how a popular Catawba County teacher died, hours after her accused killer appeared in court for the first time.

Investigators say Maggie Daniels died of strangulation.

The announcement came on Monday afternoon, hours after 34-year-old Sharman Howard Odom made his first appearance in court.

Odom is charged with murder in Daniel's death. Her body was found inside her apartment five weeks ago, on June 28.

"She died of strangulation," said Newton Police Chief Donald Brown. "There was a struggle."

A search warrant obtained on Monday shows the struggle took place inside Daniels' apartment in Newton. The warrants mention a patch of missing hair near Odom's scalp.

The search warrant also  showed that officers noticed a scratch on the suspect's face just a few days after Daniels was found murdered.

A detailed search of data in Odom's phone revealed that he had taken a "selfie" photograph that could have implications in the case.

"The day that Daniels body was discovered," says Chief Donald Brown, "Odom had taken a selfie picture of himself that showed scratches on his face."

Brown also said the investigation has concluded that Daniels died the night before her body was found, before that "selfie" picture was taken.  Brown says more than 3,000 man hours have been spent on the case and that there is more work to do.

When asked if Maggie Daniels had been sexually assaulted, Brown said investigators are still waiting on lab tests to determine that. Brown said his department and the community are relieved that an arrest has been made.

Brown says there was nothing to indicate any relationship between Odom and Daniels.

Odom was given a court-appointed attorney and had a probable cause hearing set for August 28.

He didn't answer any questions as police took him to jail on Saturday, but he had a smile on his face the whole time. Odom lived near Daniels, living in the same apartment complex.

Police served three search warrants a week before the arrest. WBTV obtained video from a neighbor of officers at the apartment.

Sources tell WBTV that DNA results from that search led to the arrest of Odom, who apparently skipped town Friday night when police went after him. He was taken into custody in Winston-Salem.

"Our lives have been forever changed, and we will never get over the loss of our sweet Maggie, but we are so relieved to have the horrible person responsible for this loss, in custody, never able to hurt another human being again," Maggie's family said on Facebook on Saturday. "Continue your prayers for all of us, and pray for justice for Maggie."

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