Police release details of UNC student's 2012 homicide
Posted September 4, 2014 6:00 p.m. EDT
Updated September 4, 2014 6:38 p.m. EDT
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Two years after a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student was found dead in her off-campus apartment, police on Thursday released new details from their investigation in an attempt to generate more leads and a possible break in the case.
Faith Danielle Hedgepeth's roommate found the 19-year-old dead in her bedroom on Sept. 7, 2012.
Police on Thursday described a brutal attack on Hedgepeth, noting that blood was spattered on the bedroom wall and a closet door and that Hedgepeth was found in a pool of blood on the floor. An autopsy determined that she had been beaten to death.
"Faith’s body was positioned on the floor, leaning against the bed, with her shirt pulled up. She had no clothes from the waist down," Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said.
A fast-food takeout bag was on the bed with "I'm not stupid (expletive) Jealous" scribbled on it, police said.
Investigators found semen on her, but police wouldn't say whether she had been sexually assaulted or had consensual sex before she was killed. Blue said the DNA from the semen matched a man's DNA that was found elsewhere in the apartment.
Police have analyzed "hundreds of DNA samples" collected from men in and around Chapel Hill who might have been connected to Hedgepeth, but Blue said no match has been found during a frustrating two years.
"We have excellent evidence. We have a really good case," he said. "We just need to connect this really good case with the killer."
Police said Hedgepeth and her roommate went to Davis Library on campus and then The Thrill, a Chapel Hill nightclub, the night before she was killed. They returned home shortly before 3 a.m., but the roommate left the apartment again at about 4:30 a.m., which police said is the last time Hedgepeth was known to be alive.
"It's not going to change anything if we know who did it, to me, but my biggest question is why?" her mother, Connie Hedgepeth, said Thursday. "No matter what happens with the case, if they find someone, it doesn’t take away missing her, loving her, wanting to see her. It’s been a long two years."
Still, her father, Roland Hedgepeth, said the family needs some closure.
"It's the most difficult struggle," he said. "Faith deserves justice, and as long as I have breath, I’ll always be seeking it."
UNC-Chapel Hill students plan to mark the second anniversary of her death with a Justice for Faith march on campus at noon Monday.
A $40,000 reward is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Faith Hedgepeth's killer, and Blue said three detectives from his department and the State Bureau of Investigation continue to work exclusively on the case.
After fighting media organizations, including WRAL News, for two years to keep records sealed in the case to avoid jeopardizing the murder investigation, Chapel Hill police plan to release all search warrants, the autopsy report and other documents on Friday, Blue said.
A Superior Court judge in July approved the release of heavily redacted search warrants that provided little detail in the case and a recording of the 911 call Hedgepeth's roommate made to report her death.
Blue declined to say why police have decided to release the documents now, emphasizing that investigators only want to encourage anyone with information to come forward so they can solve the case.
"We really want to bring some peace to Faith’s family. This has been two unimaginable years for them," he said.
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.