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Autopsy report confirms Shelia Godfrey was beaten, strangled to death

By Shavonne Walker
shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — An autopsy report concerning the death of Shelia Godfrey, 53, the Salisbury woman whose body was found in her Lyerly Pond Road home six months ago, confirms preliminary findings that she died from a blunt force injury to the head and was strangled.

Godfrey was found dead on April 28 when Rowan County Sheriff’s deputies were called to 175 Lyerly Pond Road, where they discovered her body lying face down on her kitchen floor. She was supposed to watch her daughter’s children but had not responded to her family’s attempts to reach her.  Detectives believed she’d actually been killed at least 10 hours before the body was discovered.

The autopsy report shows she was hit on the back of the head and strangled with an electrical cord. There were multiple bruises on Godfrey’s body, including her arms, knee, elbow and hands. She’d had no alcohol in her system.

Donald Lee Frye, 51, was charged with first-degree murder as well as robbery with a dangerous weapon and has remained in the Rowan County Detention Center without bond since his May arrest.

Godfrey was last seen about 6 p.m. April 27 and had spoken with her daughter by telephone that evening. Just before midnight, Godfrey’s Chevrolet Blazer was captured on surveillance video at Super Speedwash laundromat at Avalon Drive and Faith Road. Frye was captured on that surveillance video in Godfrey’s vehicle at the laundromat. He drove her vehicle to the business, parked it and, after a few minutes, walked away from the area.

A woman later told detectives he called her to pick him up, but there was no discussion of what had occurred prior to her arrival.

Search warrants filed in May said that Godfrey’s death was the result of a violent assault that caused substantial blood loss. Blood was found on the steering wheel, foot pedals and console of her vehicle. Detectives collected blood samples from the Blazer, which has been sent for more testing.

In an interview with detectives, Frye admitted to visiting Godfrey on April 25, but denied using her debit card. However, surveillance video from a local laundromat and area convenience stores show Frye using a debit card to make purchases, including gas and pizza in both Richfield and Kannapolis.

Frye has a criminal record with a number of serious convictions including second-degree sex offense, indecent liberties with a child, felony breaking and entering, and felony larceny.

Frye is listed as a sex offender on the N.C. Sex Offender registry. He was convicted in Guilford County in 1998 and served eight years in prison.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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