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Police believe murder suspect didn’t know Newton school counselor

By Elisabeth Arriero
earriero@charlotteobserver.com
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/28/19/15/YV09A.Em.138.jpeg|316
    - FACEBOOK
    A memorial for Maggie Daniels, 31, was held Wednesday at Newton-Conover High School.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/02/14/23/1qMS3I.Em.138.jpeg|368
    - City of Newton Police
    Sharman Howard Odom

Maggie Daniels probably did not know the man who has been charged with killing her, even though they lived only 100 yards from each other in the same apartment complex, Newton Police Chief Donald Brown II said Sunday.

“Nothing would indicate they had any relationship of any kind,” said Brown.

Sharman Howard Odom, 34, a former Charlotte resident with an extensive arrest record, was charged with murder Saturday in the death of Daniels, a high school counselor whose body was found on June 28. Police arrested Odom in Winston-Salem just before 3 p.m. Saturday.

Brown also said Sunday that a message Daniels shared last year on social media, about a neighbor who concerned her, did not refer to Odom. Last summer, Daniels tweeted a text message from a friend warning her about a neighbor she had expressed concerns about.

“Be careful with your neighbor you mentioned,” the Aug. 13 screen shot of a text message said. “I would really encourage you to think about a self-defense class and to give serious consideration to other measures to protect yourself.”

Brown said that the text message referred to another neighbor, who moved out of the apartment complex soon after. Police followed up with that lead and disqualified the person as a suspect, he said.

Brown would not say how Daniels died, although he suggested that the cause of death may be given at a press conference Monday afternoon. He also declined to identify a motive in the case, adding, “we certainly have our theories, but we’re not absolutely certain as of yet.”

North Carolina criminal records show Odom has been arrested numerous times, including on kidnapping, burglary and rape charges. But he does not appear to have served time in prison, records show, and the most serious charges against him were dismissed.

It wasn’t clear why those cases were dismissed.

Online commenters took to Facebook, Twitter and media websites to voice their outrage, saying the justice system failed Daniels.

But Odom’s family members, including a woman who identified herself as his cousin Angela, said Sunday that Odom “is not the monster that they’re portraying him as” in the media. The woman, who answered the phone listed as Odom’s last known telephone number, would not give her last name.

Angela said she helped to raise Odom from as young as 8 years old. She said Odom helped disadvantaged youth and volunteered in church.

“I know he’s a decent person,” she said. “He’s a child. He’s a brother. He’s an uncle.”

Angela’s husband, who identified himself only as James, agreed, saying Odom is “like a son to me.”

“I don’t know what happened. My heart is really aching for the lady and her family. She was a beautiful young lady and for her life to be snuffed out – it’s just not right,” he said. “I don’t know if he did it or not, but that would be out of his character.”

James noted that Odom had moved to Newton to live with his mother and that he was self-employed, working as the owner of Crisspy Clean, a car detailing company.

Brown noted that “Crisspy” is Odom’s nickname.

“For me to see that mug shot on TV, that’s not the guy I know,” said James. “It makes him look like some kind of evil person and that’s not even him at all. It’s really disturbing.”

Arriero: 704-358-5945; Twitter: @earriero
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