KANNAPOLIS, N.C. -- A registered sex offender is facing murder charges for the brutal death of his former in-law.
Donald Frye, 50, of Kannapolis, is being held in the Rowan County Jail without bail. The Rowan County Sheriff's Department surrounded his mobile home in the 600 block of East 12th Street in Kannapolis Wednesday morning.
"That was a brutal crime," said Rowan County Chief Deputy David Ramsey.
Deputies found 53-year-old Sheila Godfrey dead inside her Rowan County home last Friday. They believe her body had been there for at least a day. According to Frye's arrest warrant, "a blunt object and electrical cord," were used to take her life.
"It's shame. She was a good woman. Nobody deserves to be treated like that," declared Murle Kidd, who has lived near Godfrey for 24 years.
Godfrey's death left the tight-knight community stunned.
"I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that. we've never had anything like that around here," said Godfrey's neighbor Jack Hurley.
Neighbors say Godfrey was a widow and lived in her home alone. They don't recall ever seeing Frye in or around her house. However, Chief Ramsay said the two were acquainted as a result of being former in-laws.
Tracking him down proved to be a challenge. In spite of having surveillance pictures of a man using Godfrey's stolen 1987 Chevy Blazer and debit card, they weren't able to put a name to a face. But releasing images on social media Tuesday gave investigators the break they needed.
"Within two hours, we had positive identification of the person that was using the victim's debit card," said Chief Ramsey.
Ramsey says a Crime stoppers tip and the help of Kannapolis Police is how they found Frye. He is facing robbery and murder charges. His arrest is bringing calm to Godfrey's neighbors.
"Everybody's been shook up real bad, everybody's nervous, the one's that have guns are keeping them close," said Kidd. "I've been praying that he'd be caught and I hope he gets punished to the full extent, he deserves it."
This isn't Frye's first run-in with the law. He served 10 years for sex crimes and is a registered sex offender. He also was arrested last month for probation violation for a misdemeanor larceny conviction from 2015. He was in compliance with N.C. sex offender laws and met with officers as recently as April 21.
"Within approximately one week of when this offense occurred, he'd actually been in our facility at the Rowan County Sheriff's Office and had also interviewed with the sex offender monitor," Ramsay explained.
Frye lives in a mobile home just behind L & J Adult News Stand, an adult bookstore owned by his father Jessie Frye. NBC Charlotte reached out for comment on Frye's arrest, but was asked to leave the property.
Other than stealing a vehicle, debit card and cash, investigators haven't identified a motive for this murder.
"I don't know what he thought that she might have, but she's like the rest of us ain't got nothing a whole lot you know. She wasn't like someone with a bunch of money," said neighbor Hurley.
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