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Deputies locate 'person of interest' in death of high school English teacher

BROOKSVILLE — It was unlike longtime teacher Lee Anne Shoeman to miss a day at Central High School without calling in her absence.

So when Shoeman didn't show up Monday morning, school officials became concerned. A secretary called her home, then a family member. Then a sheriff's deputy was dispatched to her house.

Shortly after 7:30 a.m., deputies arrived at 1267 Meredith Drive in Spring Hill and found the 55-year-old Shoeman dead, the victim of a homicide.

Authorities withheld many of the details of her death as they searched for Jerome "Jerry" Sheridan, 49, whom they identified as a "person of interest."

Sheridan was located early Monday evening in Hillsborough County, where he was taken to a hospital for treatment of self-inflicted wounds. Hernando deputies said they will interview him when his condition permits.

Sheriff Al Nienhuis said Sheridan and Shoeman were living together. While the Sheriff's Office hasn't responded to any calls at the address recently, Hernando court records show Shoeman had filed for a domestic violence injunction against Sheridan in the past.

The news of Shoeman's death trickled into Central High on Monday while many students were taking final exams. Shoeman was a respected and well-liked teacher in the Hernando district, where she had taught since 2002. She had taught at Central since August 2011 and most recently taught English to juniors and seniors. She also served as the faculty sponsor for the National Honor Society

Anthony Martinez, a 16-year-old junior, had Shoeman for sixth-period English.

"She was literally the sweetest lady ever," Martinez said. "She would dedicate all of her time to her students."

He said she did an amazing job of connecting English class to real life, personalizing it.

"She would break her back for her kids," he said. "We're really, really, really going to miss her."

Teachers and school administrators remembered Shoeman as an extremely capable teacher, quiet but strong, with a thorough knowledge of her subject.

Former principal Joe Clifford, who brought her to Central from Fox Chapel Middle School, said Shoeman cared deeply for her profession.

"It's a travesty that she's been taken from us in such a horrific manner," he said. "I feel like our profession has lost a valuable and integral part of the success of student education in Hernando County."

Clifford said Shoeman was part of a team that came to Central and helped turn the school around academically.

"When the team came to Central, we missed an 'F' by 10 points," he said. "When we left, we missed an 'A' by 6 points."

Central principal John Stratton said Shoeman was a remarkable woman and teacher.

"We're definitely going to miss her in all capacities," he said.

He said a team of school psychologists, social workers and guidance counselors will be on campus today to support any students, faculty members and staffers who need help.

Outside of the classroom, Shoeman — who had two daughters, a son and a grandchild, according to school officials — had a penchant for local history, serving several years as executive director of the Hernando Historical Museum Association in Brooksville.

Association president Ron Daniel said Shoeman was an energetic promoter of the group's preservation efforts and worked to procure grants for several projects, including a newly installed historic plaque at Bayport. "She was a tireless volunteer, very sweet and easygoing," he said. "I'm totally in shock over this."

Deputies said the investigation into her death is continuing.

Logan Neill contributed to this report. Danny Valentine can be reached at dvalentine@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1432. Follow him on Twitter @HernandoTimes.

Deputies locate 'person of interest' in death of high school English teacher 05/19/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 8:37am]

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