Redacted search warrants released in UNC student's homicide
Posted July 2, 2014
Chapel Hill, N.C. — A Superior Court judge on Wednesday unsealed search warrants and other records in the investigation into the 2012 slaying of a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student.
The heavily redacted documents shed little light, however, on the death of Faith Danielle Hedgepeth.
Hedgepeth, 19, was found dead in her bedroom at an off-campus apartment complex in Chapel Hill on Sept. 7, 2012.
Authorities haven't disclosed how Hedgepeth was killed or information about possible suspects, although they have said they don't believe she was the victim of a random crime. No one has been charged in her death.
"There's blood everywhere," her roommate told a 911 dispatcher, according to a recording of the call released Wednesday. "There’s blood all over the pillows on the comforter. I just don’t know what happened."
Her roommate told the dispatcher that it appeared as if someone had been in the apartment.
"There’s stuff in my room that was not here before. It looks like someone had came in here. It really does," she said.
Prosecutors and police kept the documents and 911 calls sealed for 22 months, arguing that releasing details about the case could compromise the investigation. In releasing them publicly, Judge Howard Manning said some information needed to be redacted to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation.
The search warrants cover Hedgepeth's apartment and a second apartment in her complex, a 1997 Honda Accord, a Nissan Altima owned by Hedgepeth's mother, Hedgepeth's bank accounts, the laptop computers and Facebook accounts belonging to Hedgepeth and her roommate and a Facebook account belonging to an unidentified person.
Bedding, clothes, paperwork and other items were taken from Hedgepeth's apartment, according to the search warrant. The list of items taken was partly redacted. Clothing, bedding and papers also were taken from the second apartment, a second search warrant states.
The warrant for the Accord noted that analysts gathered evidence from the back seat and the driver's door frame.
Manning said Hedgepeth's autopsy report would remain sealed, as well as three non-testimonial identification applications and orders from people the judge said "are not presently parties to this proceeding and investigation." Disclosing that information, he said, "would be prejudicial to them and their personal right to privacy."
WRAL News is among a group of media companies that has fought to get the documents released, arguing the information is public record.
Police have said Hedgepeth and her roommate went to The Thrill, a Chapel Hill nightclub, the night before she was killed and that she was last known to be alive at 3 a.m. on Sept. 7, 2012.
In January 2013, FBI analysts found DNA left in the apartment by an unidentified man, but they didn't disclose where the DNA was found.
A reward of up to $39,000 is offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Chapel Hill Police Department tip line at 919-614-6363 or Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515 or email information to investigators at firstname.lastname@example.org.