‘Armed and dangerous’ suspect arrested in NC professor’s death, police say

Jeanine Skinner, left, and Donny Lewis Franklin (UNC Charlotte and Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) — A man wanted in connection to the killing of a University of North Carolina-Charlotte professor has been arrested.

Donny Lewis Franklin, 45, was arrested Monday evening and charged with first-degree murder in the killing of 35-year-old Jeanine Skinner, an assistant professor of gerontology and psychology in the Department of Psychological Sciences at UNC Charlotte.

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Skinner’s body was found in her apartment in the Ayrsley community in southwest Charlotte Friday.

Authorities have been searching for Franklin since Friday and at one point considered him to be armed, dangerous, and possibly suicidal.

Police have not released a motive for the killing but said it may have been a domestic incident.

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CMPD says 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. Friday. Police said Skinner was found inside one of the apartments with “obvious trauma.” She was pronounced dead at the scene.

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.

Franklin was identified as the suspect in Skinner’s killing Friday night. He is due in court Tuesday at 9 a.m.

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