A suspect in the domestic violence death of an esteemed North Carolina college professor was arrested and charged with her murder on Tuesday.
Authorities said that 45-year-old Donny Lewis Franklin is the prime suspect in the slaying of 35-year-old Jeannine Shante Skinner, whose battered remains were discovered in her apartment over the weekend.
Skinner was an associate professor of psychology and gerontology at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, according to CBS News. Gerontology is the scientific study of aging.
Police say that Franklin was Skinner’s boyfriend, and had been convicted of violent crimes in the past, including domestic abuse.
Franklin, according to The Charlotte Observer, plead guilty to a misdemeanor count of assault on a woman in 2003.
He was also convicted of battery and burglary with intent to commit assault in Roanoke, Virginia in 1996.
Authorities noted that Franklin and Skinner’s relationship was relatively new, and that the couple had been together for less than two months.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department found Skinner dead in her home at Ayrsley Town Center on Kings Parade Boulevard after a call was placed with authorities inquiring after her well-being.
The cause of death has yet to be made public, but police said Skinner suffered ‘obvious trauma’ to her body.
It remains unclear who made the original distress to call police.
Following the news of her death, peers described Skinner as a dedicated and courteous colleague who started working for the college a little over two years ago.
‘It feels like losing a family member in a lot of ways,’ psychology department chair, Dr. Eric Heggestad, said. ‘She hadn’t been here long but she was making a really strong impact.’
Neighbors also said they were shocked to learn about Skinner’s sudden slaying.
‘Just the thoughts of what could have happened to her in those moments, it’s just saddening,’ Kathy Shivers told CBS. ‘It happens anywhere to anybody, nobody’s exempt.’
Franklin’s attorney entered a plea of not guilty to the charges, according to WSOCTV.