The man accused of strangling popular high school guidance counselor Maggie Daniels during a struggle inside her apartment had been accused twice before of choking women in Charlotte.
Sharman Howard Odom, 34, was never tried for those crimes in 2010 and 2012 because the charges were dismissed.
He was arrested Saturday at his mother’s house in Winston-Salem nearly five weeks after Daniels’ body was discovered in her apartment. Odom remains jailed in Catawba County without bond and charged with murder.
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In a Monday news conference, Newton Police Chief Donald Brown II said investigators focused on Odom after searching his iPhone 5 and finding three photos he took of himself June 28, the day Daniels’ body was found.
In the photos, he had scratches on his right nostril and below his left eye. “The injuries appeared pink, suggesting they were new,” a search warrant said. During a July search of Odom’s apartment, investigators found what they believe was a section of his hair.
“It does appear that there was a struggle in her apartment,” Brown said Monday during the news conference. Investigators have not determined a motive in Daniels’ killing and would not say whether she had been sexually assaulted.
Odom didn’t appear to know Daniels, Brown said, though they lived about 100 yards away from each other in the Windsor Apartments.
They believed Odom had something to do with Daniels’ death “early on,” Brown said.
He was the only person ever identified as a suspect.
Investigators interviewed more than 150 people in the past five weeks before Odom’s arrest Saturday afternoon, Brown said.
After Odom’s initial court appearance Monday, his mother, Darlene Odom, was charged with misdemeanor assault after reportedly shoving a television reporter outside the courthouse.
Odom, whom family and friends call “Crisspy,” was born in Charlotte and lived there until 2012.
In 2007, he formed a limited liability company and opened a car detailing business called Crisspy Clean, according to documents filed with the N.C. Secretary of State.
Five years later, he moved to the Windsor Apartments in Newton to be closer to his mother, his family said.
In Charlotte, he was twice accused of assaulting women. Both cases were ultimately dismissed.
In August 2012, Odom was charged with second-degree rape, assault by strangulation and robbery, court records show.
The alleged victim said she was choked and passed out and didn’t know whether Odom had sex with her.
A prosecutor dismissed the charges after questioning the credibility of both Odom and his accuser, who was a prostitute, according to the dismissal form in Mecklenburg County Superior Court.
In 2010 Odom was charged with assault by strangulation, first-degree rape, second-degree kidnapping and first-degree burglary. An 18-year-old woman said a suspect, who police believed was Odom, entered her room, choked her, tied her up and sexually assaulted her.
Those charges were ultimately dismissed. Court records that would have explained the reason for the dismissals were later destroyed, as required by state law about record retention.
In April 2012, Odom’s ex-girlfriend filed a restraining order against him, saying she feared for her and her daughter’s safety.
“Defendant repeatedly sends messages and calls the Plaintiff, tried to push his way into her home; and has been observed peering into her home and appeared uninvited,” court documents stated. “He also went to her daughter’s school and had been told not to as he is not the child’s father.”
Reached on Monday, the woman who filed the restraining order against Odom said she didn’t pursue charges.
“I didn’t want anything else or to even see him at all,” said the woman, who asked that her name not be used in the Observer because she feared for her safety. “I went through a lot with him.”
She met Odom when he responded to her ad on Craigslist about renting a room in her house. Two other people lived in the house at the time, she said, and Odom was a good roommate who was “real quiet” and “stayed on the Internet a lot.”
After a few months, they began dating. Odom was a good boyfriend, picking up her daughter from school and helping her cover the rent.
In spring 2012, about nine months after they started dating, the couple got into a fight, the woman said. She told Odom to leave, but he wouldn’t. He began stalking her at her house and harassing her with phone calls and text messages, she said.
One day, a neighbor asked her why a man stood on the side of her house every morning when she took her daughter to the bus stop.
“He would watch me, and I didn’t know it until the elderly lady said something,” she said.
Daniels grew up in a suburb of Cleveland and moved to North Carolina in 2005 after graduating from Notre Dame College.
In 2006 she started teaching English and coaching basketball at nearby Newton-Conover High and was named teacher of the year in 2011.
She was working toward a master’s degree in counseling at Appalachian State University, according to a biography from the school system. She began counseling students at Discovery High School in Newton in 2013.
Last summer, she moved into Windsor Apartments, about a mile from the school. Neighbors and co-workers said she could frequently be seen jogging through the streets of Newton.
She told friends she had concerns about her safety in the complex.
A year ago, she tweeted a copy of 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.”
Investigators interviewed that neighbor and ruled him out as a suspect, Brown said. Staff researcher Maria David and reporter Elizabeth DePompei contributed.