Sheryl Shivers-Blackwell, 36, an associate professor in the division of management in the School of Business and Industry, was found dead Thursday evening in the Tallahassee residence she shared with her husband and children. Her husband Baron Blackwell, 43, remains in critical condition at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital.
Representatives from Tallahassee Memorial Hospital’s patient information center said they had no additional information on Blackwell.
According to a press release released by the Tallahassee Police Department Friday evening, on Thursday at approximately 6:20 PM, TPD responded to the Blackwell home in reference to reports of an injured person.
After entering the home, police found Blackwell and Shivers-Blackwell in two separate rooms. He was found to be in need of serious medical attention and she was discovered lying on a bed and dead at the time officers arrived. Evidence from the autopsy that was performed Friday morning show that her cause of death was asphyxiation through strangulation.
Additional evidence gathered by police throughout the night have “led investigators to believe that incidents of domestic violence did occur in the home,” according to the press release. A suspect has not been officially named in the case.
The death of Shivers-Blackwell marks the second loss of a professor within SBI. Kenneth Gray, professor of management and international studies, died from a heart attack in late March. SBI faculty and students are finding Shivers-Blackwell’s death to be a heavy blow.
Torey Alston, 22, a senior business student and one of Shivers-Blackwell’s pupils said she was always smiling, upbeat and never gave any indication that anything was wrong.
“I think that I am probably the only student that was in Dr. Gray’s and Dr. Blackwell’s classes at the time of their passing and it has definitely been an interesting and tragic experience to have two unexpected tragedies of two outstanding professors…,” said the Fort Lauderdale native.
Alston said one of her most recent projects was focusing on maintaining accreditation for SBI.
Lydia McKinley-Floyd, dean of SBI, shared her thoughts on the death of her colleague.
“It’s more than tough, the entire thing is just so devastating, especially with this being the second faculty member to pass away within the last three or four months,” McKinley-Floyd said. “She was such a warm, beautiful and wonderful spirit and she was committed.”
As a testament to her dedication, McKinley-Floyd mentioned a project they were working on. “I was just talking to her earlier this week…she was working on a project for Monday over the weekend to assure that the project was completed and that’s how committed she was,” McKinley-Floyd said. “She loved her students and she loved FAMU, especially as two time alumna… she gave her all for her students and for this program and for that she will be sorely missed.”
McKinley-Floyd said there will definitely be a memorial on campus, but they want to give the family a moment to grieve before making any major plans. “I know she was apart of a very large church and we know they will be celebrating her life, so we’ll be coordinating with family and the church to make sure everything is done properly,” she said. “…even if its [the memorial] private and here at SBI early next week.”
In addition to her husband, Shivers-Blackwell is survived by two children, a 3-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl, which were taken into the department of children and family protective custody once police arrived at the home.
“I remember when she was pregnant with her last child and I want to send my condolences to her family and especially to her kids,” Alston said.
As of press time the family has not begun making funeral arrangements.
Continue to check thefamuanonline.com for updates and funeral arrangements.