Kannapolis sex offender charged with murder silent during first court appearance

Published 10:31 am Thursday, May 4, 2017

By Shavonne Walker


SALISBURY — In a strange but brief proceeding, a Kannapolis sex offender accused of first-degree murder did not utter a word during his first court appearance Thursday.

District Court Judge Nathaniel Knust repeatedly asked Donald Lee Frye questions but received only silence in return.

Frye, 50, is accused of what investigators described as the brutal killing of Sheila Godfrey, 53, who was found dead Friday by her family after failed attempts to reach her.

Before Thursday’s hearing, Frye sat with his head in his hands on a courtroom bench. He didn’t look up while the judge explained his Miranda rights and the possible sentences if he is convicted.

Knust asked Frye what he wanted to do about an attorney, and Frye only shrugged. The judge asked again but got no answer. Knust told Frye he would appoint Salisbury attorney Darrin Jordan to defend him on a provisional basis and that someone from the indigent defense services would also be appointed.

The judge said Jordan would be a temporary counsel until Frye decided what he wanted to do.

District Attorney Brandy Cook said she has not decided whether she will seek the death penalty in this case.

Rowan County detectives had been looking for Frye since last Friday after Godfrey’s Chevy S10 Blazer was found abandoned in the parking lot of Super Speedwash laundromat on Avalon Drive. Detectives released still images from a surveillance camera inside the laundromat that showed Frye tossing items into a trash bin.

Investigators released three sets of still images from surveillance cameras at the laundromat and a convenience store. The images from the store helped investigators determine Frye’s identity. Investigators said within two hours of releasing images of Frye to the media and online, they received helpful tips.

Frye was arrested Wednesday during a traffic stop by Rowan County sheriff’s detectives and Kannapolis police officers. Detectives collected evidence from Frye and Godfrey’s homes, their vehicles, and the laundromat.

Officials said the crime was not random. Detectives said Godfrey’s uncle was married to a woman who was also at one point married to Frye.

Frye, who is a registered sex offender, will remain in the Rowan County Detention Center without bond.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.