NEWTON, N.C. -- Newton Police revealed for the first time today that 31-year-old high school guidance counselor Margaret Daniels was strangled and that there were signs of a struggle in her apartment.
Police Chief Donald Brown made the announcement Monday afternoon during a news conference.
Earlier in the morning, 34-year-old Sharman Odom made his first appearance in Catawba County court after being charged Saturday with Daniels' murder.
Odom was arrested at a relative's house in Winston-Salem on Saturday and was brought back by detectives to Newton Saturday afternoon.
Odom was a neighbor who lived in the same Windsor Apartment complex where Daniels lived, but the Chief said it did not appear they knew each other.
"At this time there is nothing to indicate that they had any relationship of any kind," Chief Brown said.
Brown would not elaborate on the conditions in Daniels' apartment other than to say there were signs of a struggle.
He said tests to determine if Daniels was sexually assaulted are not complete.
In court, Odom was advised of the charge against him and told that if he is found guilty of first-degree murder that he could possibly face the death penalty.
Asked for his reaction to the charge, Attorney Victoria Jane from the Office of the Capital Defender, who acted as his lawyer during the brief hearing said, "You know he is certainly fearful and a little confused about some things."
Afterwards, Darlene Odom, who is the mother of the suspect, started swinging and pushing reporters as they tried to question her outside the courthouse about her son; one reporter had a camera shoved into his face, opening a small cut under his right eye. Darlene has turned herself in to face three charges of assault in connection with this incident.
Chief Brown said he believed Maggie Daniels had left her door open and that is how the suspect was able to get in.
He said there was nothing missing from Daniels's apartment, and investigators do not have a motive.
He added, "We do have several solid theories that I cannot discuss at this time."
The first search warrant to be made public indicated that when police first questioned Odom, they noticed he was missing a patch of hair near his forehead. The warrant indicates that when investigators later searched his apartment they found hair similar to Odom's in a shoe box in his closet.
The warrant goes on to say when police searched Odom's cell phone they found he had posted pictures of himself with what appeared to be new scratches on his face. The date the pictures were taken was June 28, the day Daniels's body was found.