Sex offender charged in ‘brutal’ death of NC grandmother

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) — A man was charged early Wednesday morning with murder in the killing of a 53-year-old Rowan County woman, warrants show.

CLICK FOR LARGER PHOTOS OF THE GRANDMOTHER AND SEX OFFENDER

Donald Lee Frye, 50, of 12th Street in Kannapolis, is being charged in what police are calling the “brutal murder” of Sheila Godfrey, a grandmother who was found dead at her home Friday. Frye was jailed just before 1:30 a.m.

Neighbors on Lyerly Pond Road where Godfrey lived were relieved when told about the arrest.

“It’s been very scary for my kids, my daughter especially,” said Jamie Owens. “She has not been sleeping very well at night at all. She’s been terrified, she would not stay at home by herself at all.”

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

Deputies were called Friday to the 170 block of Lyerly Pond Road after Sheila Godfrey was found dead. Investigators say Godfrey was killed Thursday evening.

“[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,” warrants state.

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“It was a brutal homicide involving the victim,” said Chief Deputy David Ramsey.

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,” Ramsey added.

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 12th Street in Kannapolis on Tuesday night and made a traffic stop when he left his house early on Wednesday 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, which has not yet been released.

Last month, Frye was jailed for probation violation. He was released from the jail less than one week prior to Godfrey’s death.

Frye has a criminal record with a number of convictions including felony breaking and entering and felony larceny.

He is a sex offender listed on the North Carolina Sex Offender registry. Frye was convicted in 1998 of taking indecent liberties with a minor and second-degree sex offense.

Frye’s home is directly behind an adult book store that is owned by his father.

Copyright 2017 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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