Local News

Hometown tribe: Slain UNC student 'sweetest person in the world'

Posted September 9, 2012 10:02 p.m. EDT
Updated September 10, 2012 3:48 p.m. EDT

Faith Hedgepeth

— Two days after a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student was found slain, members of her Haliwa-Saponi tribe showed why every beat of her heart and every breath she took mattered to them.

Deirdre Francis organized a vigil for her best friend, Faith Danielle Hedgepeth, in her hometown of Warrenton Sunday night. Friends found Hedgepeth, 19, dead in her Hawthorne on the View apartment in Chapel Hill Friday morning.

"She was the sweetest person in the world," Francis said.

Hundreds at the vigil watched Native American dancing and drumming, which honored Hedgepeth's love of singing and dancing at Pow-Wows.

"I just want to thank everybody for their love and support, and I'm just overwhelmed," her father, Roland Hedgepeth, said.

Montenia Lynch went to school with Hedgepeth's mother and remembers when she was pregnant.

"She will always be my baby," Lynch said. "It just saddens my heart to know that someone would do this to such a nice lady."

While Chapel Hill police have not said how Hedgepeth died, they have called her death a homicide. No arrest has been made or suspects named, but investigators said the crime was not random and the public is not in danger.

The vigil raised more than $1,000 to go toward a $2,000 reward for an arrest, as well as funeral expenses.

"It would not relieve any pain, but it will relieve a little stress off the hearts," Francis said.

The Alpha Pi Omega sorority is organizing another vigil for Hedgepeth in The Pit on UNC's campus at 8 p.m. Monday. Mount Bethel Church in Warrenton will host a wake for her at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and her funeral at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Chapel Hill police have set up a tipline to get more information about Hedgepeth's death. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call 919-614-6363 or Crime Stoppers at 942-7515.

"I hope justice is served. You took something you cannot give, and that's a life," said Lynch. "You took somebody's child, somebody's sister and a friend. Put yourself in her mother's shoes."