Woman found bludgeoned to death 10 days after reporting to tunnel police man was trying to kill her

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VIRGINIA BEACH — More than a week before he allegedly stabbed and bludgeoned a woman to death with a hammer, a Maryland man punched out the windows in their car on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.

Sharef Dontre Hayward, 27, and Airealle Elizabeth Sells were traveling to Somerset County, Md. from a timeshare seminar in Williamsburg when they got into an argument on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on Nov. 27, according to documents filed in Virginia Beach Circuit Court.

The pair’s car was stopped on the CBBT when tunnel police responded. Sells told the police that Hayward was trying to kill her. Authorities found him running down the bridge. He was injured from punching out the car’s windows, court documents state.

Hayward was detained and taken to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital. He wasn’t charged, and was eventually released. Sells filed a protective order against him in Somerset County based on the incident.

Ten days later, Sells and her children, aged eight and four, were found with serious head injuries in her Somerset County home, located on Pine Knoll Drive. On Dec. 6, the trio had been beaten with a hammer, and Sells had also been stabbed, according to court documents.

Sells later died of her injuries.

Police found large amounts of blood and bodily fluid in the bedrooms of the home, including on the walls, furniture and carpeting. They also found a kitchen knife in the master bedroom that was broken into two pieces.

Hayward’s aunt told police he called her that night and said he had “done something” to Sells. His father, Reggie Hayward, also told police his son said he’d stabbed and beat Sells with a hammer, but didn’t mention that the children were also hurt, court documents state.

Police searched for a hammer and found one in a dumpster in the development Sells lived in.

Hayward was arrested and charged with first-degree murder; second-degree murder; three counts of first-degree assault; home invasion; two counts of attempted first-degree murder; two counts of attempted second-degree murder; first-degree child abuse; violating a protective order.

Hayward was scheduled to be tried by a jury on May 26, but that date has been postponed and has not been rescheduled.

Mayfield can be reached at adrienne.m@southsidedaily.com.

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Adrienne Mayfield is an award-winning, multi-media journalist hailing from Clermont, Fla. She moved to Lynchburg, Va. on a whim when she was 19, and worked her way to Hampton Roads in 2013. Adrienne is passionate about telling people stories via covering public safety and the judicial system. She isn’t afraid to take a heads-on approach to covering crime, including knocking on doors to get the details police aren’t sharing. Adrienne is a 2014 Old Dominion University graduate who still lives within walking distance of the college. You may see her cruising around Downtown Norfolk on her bike, enjoying a sandwich from Grilled Cheese Bistro or playing fetch with her dog, Greta, at the Colonial Place dog park.