Crime & Courts

Catawba prosecutor to seek death penalty in counselor Maggie Daniels’ killing

The Catawba County district attorney has filed a motion to seek the death penalty against the man accused of killing popular Newton-Conover high school counselor Margaret “Maggie” Daniels, the Observer’s media partner WBTV reported on Thursday.

“The State submits there is evidence to support the existence of one or more aggravating circumstances,” the motion stated. “The State is seeking the death penalty in the event the defendant is convicted of First Degree Murder.”

Search warrants unsealed Thursday also reveal new details about the killing.

Sharman Howard Odom, 34, was indicted two weeks ago by a Catawba grand jury in the death of Daniels, 31, whose body was found inside her Newton apartment on June 28. Odom, who was taken into custody Aug. 2 at his mother’s home in Winston-Salem, was charged with first-degree murder, first-degree sexual offense and first-degree kidnapping.

At the time of Daniels’ death, she and Odom lived in the same apartment complex.

Odom is being held without bond at the Catawba County Detention Facility.

Warrants from crime scene searches of Odom’s apartment in Newton on July 25 and 26 were unsealed Thursday.. There also was a warrant for a search of Odom himself.

Authorities wrote that they were looking for such things as computers, digital devices, passwords and call logs, including incoming, outgoing and missed calls.

The warrants stated that Daniels’ body was found on the floor in her apartment’s bedroom. She was wearing only shorts and several items of furniture in the bedroom were damaged or askew, suggesting a struggle, the documents stated.

There were ligature marks on Daniels’ neck, which suggested she was strangled, according to the warrants. During the autopsy, the warrants said, authorities found semen in the oral and rectal swabs of Daniels’ body.

Several dark curly hairs, which were inconsistent with Daniels,’ were located on her body and throughout the apartment, the warrant stated. DNA evidence analyzed at the State Crime Laboratory indicated the presence of an unknown male, according to the documents.

Investigators found a bottle of Scrubbing Bubbles with bleach the warrants stated may have been used to clean Daniels. Authorities also found an unknown stain on her back.

“Odom is a known car detailer and has cleaning chemicals in his work vehicle by his own admission,” the warrants state.

There were no signs of forced entry to the apartment, but the front door was unlocked, according to the warrants.

Shortly after noon on June 27, a man told police he saw Odom walking between Daniels’ apartment and the neighboring building, the warrants said.

The man said that Odom had often mentioned Daniels and appeared to know her habits. The man also stated that Odom said he wanted to “get with” Daniels and that Odom had showed him a photograph from Daniels’ Instagram or Twitter account a month or so before Daniels was killed. Also, the neighbor said Odom mentioned Daniels had a boyfriend who visited on the weekends, mentioning “that girl lives by herself.”

The mother of Daniels’ boyfriend told police she had seen Odom staring at Daniels while she was sunbathing and had often called him down, according to the warrants.

Another neighbor described Odom as “creepy,” the warrants state, and said he would sit in his vehicle with the ignition off between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., looking at an electronic device. The man said the incidents occurred during the summer and that Odom had the windows rolled up.

During detectives’ initial interview with Odom, police noted he had a patch of hair missing from his head that could have been the result of a struggle, the warrants stated.

While DNA evidence was taken from numerous parties, the warrants said that Odom was the only person who refused to cooperate. Odom said “he did not trust police,” according to the warrants.

Odom was interviewed twice and denied any association with Daniels beyond speaking to her in passing, the warrants stated.

Investigators said Odom is a person of interest in a 2012 rape case where the victim said a black male held a rag with a chemical smell over her face.

Chris Dyches of WBTV contributed to this report

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