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Laundromat surveillance video shows Donald Frye in murder victim’s vehicle

SALISBURY — Surveillance cameras at the Speedwash Laundromat recorded Donald Lee Frye driving Sheila Godfrey’s white Chevrolet Blazer on April 27, 2017, a former Rowan County sheriff’s deputy testified Thursday.

Godfrey, 53, was found dead the next day at her Lyerly Pond Road home after her daughter reported not seeing or talking to her the previous evening. Jurors watched the video on Thursday.

Former Deputy Cary Gordy testified that he went to the laundromat and got the video as well as the time stamp on it. He described the man who went into the business as wearing a green T-shirt with a white emblem, a baseball cap and blue jeans. Rowan detectives would later release surveillance video of Frye wearing the same green T-shirt. He was positively identified days after Godfrey’s murder.

Godfrey was supposed to watch her daughter’s children but never responded to text messages and phone calls.

Her daughter, Jessica Lind, became worried and went with her husband, Jacob, in search of her mother. The two were on their way to Godfrey’s home, just outside Faith, when Jessica spotted her mother’s vehicle at the laundromat, located on Avalon Drive off Faith Road.

The vehicle’s windows were rolled down and Godfrey’s purse was on the floorboard with its contents strewn in the front passenger area. An empty pill bottle sat on the passenger seat. Jessica Lind had called a friend and co-worker, Alcohol Law Enforcement Agent Jerry Dean, to tell him she was concerned after her mother didn’t answer her phone.

Dean recommended that Lind file a missing-person report with the Salisbury Police Department.

In the surveillance video, Frye is seen pulling up to the side of the laundromat. He waits for a bit before getting out of the vehicle. He walks into the business, throws away something in a trash can and leaves. He is shown waiting outside for a few minute, then walking into the darkness off camera. He was at the laundromat for about 20 minutes.

In other testimony Thursday, Sarah Wales of State Employees’ Credit Union explained Godfrey’s account statement. She detailed the types of transactions that were made with Godfrey’s debit card and multiple rejected transactions or failed attempts to use the card.

Investigators said Frye used Godfrey’s debit cards to buy gas and two pizzas. Godfrey’s account statements confirmed that her card had been used at several locations in Kannapolis and Richfield. The pizza was bought on South Cannon Boulevard.

Jurors also heard from forensic pathologist Dr. Michelle Aurelius, who examined Godfrey’s body. Aurelius said Godfrey had a number of injuries to the back of her head. She also was strangled with a cord, which was wrapped around her neck twice. In previous testimony, Rowan County Crime Scene Investigator David Earnhardt said he believes the cord was ripped from a wall because the prongs were bent.

Godfrey also had what appeared to be scratches or tears on her neck that the medical examiner said could have been made if she tried to remove the cord.

Donna Brooks, Godfrey’s younger sister, talked to her regularly and had last seen her on April 18 when she helped her pack up some items. Godfrey’s home was being foreclosed on and she was downsizing. She knew of Frye as a family friend and when he worked at J&J Video, where she often went.

Brooks said she knew her sister had a DVD player and TV in the living room, which were not in the home when Godfrey’s body was found.

Bill Anderson, a longtime friend of Godfrey, was supposed to meet her for dinner. He tried to contact Godfrey to invite her to a fish fry. When he couldn’t reach her, he called her daughter, Jessica Lind.

Anderson had worked in security at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center before his retirement and Godfrey’s. Godfrey was a respiratory therapist. Anderson went to dinner with Godfrey and three other couples on April 22. Afterward, he walked Godfrey inside her home and said goodnight, he said.

Linda Miller, a friend and neighbor, said she saw a man who could have been Frye on Godfrey’s front porch with her a few weeks before her death. Miller said she didn’t know Frye and could only see the man’s profile.

The trial resumes at 9:30 a.m. today.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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