Editor’s note: A version of this story ran in The Tampa Tribune on Tuesday.
SPRING HILL — A Spring Hill man has been charged in the death of a Central High School teacher after being found trying to slit his wrists on Monday night in Hillsborough County, authorities said.
Jerome Sheridan, 49, faces first-degree murder charges based on physical evidence found at the home he shared with Lee Ann Shoeman, as well as admissions he made to authorities, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.
Shoeman, an English teacher at Brooksville’s Central High School, was found after deputies responded to her house at 1267 Meredith Drive, Spring Hill, around 7:30 a.m. Monday when she didn’t report for work.
Shoeman died from “homicidal violence,” said Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis, though he did not elaborate on the cause of death. Shoeman was killed sometime over the weekend, possibly Sunday, Neinhuis said. The Medical Examiner’s Office was still working Tuesday to determine the exact cause of death, said Cpl. Jennifer Picardi, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.
After a search that began Monday morning, Sheridan was found in the parking lot of Westfield Citrus Park Mall at about 6 p.m. Monday by Hillsborough County deputies. As deputies approached, Sheridan was trying to cut his wrists, deputies said. He was taken to a hospital before being booked into the Hillsborough County Detention Center.
A neighbor who knew Shoeman and had conversations with Shreridan said he heard talk of domestic violence.
“He was kind of a little scary,” said Jim Goldade, who lives down the street and was taking care of Shoeman’s dogs until her family could pick them up. “Maybe a short fuse.”
Hernando County court records show Shoeman filed a domestic violence injunction against Sheridan in December 1997.
In August 2003, she took a job as language arts teacher at Fox Chapel Middle School. In 2012, she became a writing coach at Central High School until becoming a language arts teacher at the start of the 2013-14 school year.
“She was very personable and well-liked by her students — a real quiet, reserved-type personality,” he said.
Williams said Shoeman was a dedicated educator.
“I remember her as a hard worker who was willing to work with her colleagues,” Williams said. “She worked to help students be better writers to prepare for college and careers.”
Williams said grief counselors, social workers and staff from neighboring high schools were on hand Tuesday morning to meet with any faculty or students who needed to discuss the matter.
Central High School Principal John Stratton called a meeting with all faculty and staff at the close of school Monday so as not to interrupt classes and make sure all heard first-hand the details of the tragedy, Williams said.
School board member Gus Guadagnino said he was shocked when he heard the news.
“Our hearts go out to the family and what we have to do is to make sure the (students) understand what’s going on,” he said.
Parents and family were notified via robo-calls Monday informing them that counselors would be available to talk with their children Tuesday.
Goldade said he used to see Shoeman walk her two dogs through the neighborhood. His wife sold Avon products to her. Shoeman has two adult daughters, he said.
“She was a very nice lady,” Goldade said. “A very nice neighbor.”