UM writing instructor charged in husband's death

Scotland native is accused of shooting him during a domestic dispute

November 03, 2010|By Ben Nuckols

A University of Maryland writing instructor has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of her husband at their southern Maryland home.

Joanna J. Findlay, 40, a native of Scotland, was teaching two classes this fall at the university's flagship College Park campus.

She now sits in a jail cell in St. Mary's County, where she's being held without bail. According to the county sheriff's office, Findlay shot her husband, 55-year-old Gary A. Trogdon, during a domestic dispute Saturday night at their home in Hollywood.

Findlay called 911 first to report the dispute, said Dfc. Cindy Allen, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office. Trogdon then called to report that his wife had shot him, and the final call from him was abruptly disconnected, Allen said.

Deputies responded and found Trogdon dead from a gunshot wound. Findlay reported that she had taken several antidepressant pills and wanted to commit suicide, Allen said.

An attorney for Findlay was not listed in court records, and prosecutors did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

There was no history of domestic violence between the couple, Allen said, and neither had a criminal record in Maryland, according to online court records. A home they co-owned in Baltimore was foreclosed upon, records show.

Findlay was teaching a technical writing class and a course on writing case studies and narrative reports. Her classes have been canceled this week, and the English department is looking for a substitute to teach the rest of the semester, university spokesman Lee Tune said.

Tune declined to comment on the allegations or any administrative action taken against Findlay.

Findlay was an adjunct instructor, meaning she was paid by the class. She has taught there since 2002 and has also taught at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and the George Washington University, according to her curriculum vitae.

She earned a master's degree in English literature and creative writing from the University of Nebraska in 2000 and was working on her Ph.D.

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