Timeline: Nearly a decade later, closure surfaces in Faith Hedgepeth murder
Posted September 16, 2021 7:32 p.m. EDT
Updated September 17, 2021 4:02 p.m. EDT
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Faith Danielle Hedgepeth was just 19 years old and a sophomore at UNC-Chapel Hill when she was found dead in September 2012. Nine years later, a seminal moment was reached in her murder investigation as a Durham man was arrested on Thursday.
Hedgepeth was from Hollister in Warren County. She was a junior biology major from who, friends have said, had talked about becoming a doctor or doing something to help others. She worked at Red Robin in Durham and was weeks shy of turning 20.
Hedgepeth was active in Native American events and groups and performed in a singing group and danced at Pow-Wows. She was a member of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe and a steady volunteer at the UNC American Indian Center.
Below is a timeline of WRAL's reporting in the months and years following Hedgepeth's tragic death.
Sept. 7, 2012
Friends found Hedgepeth's body Friday morning at her apartment at the Hawthorne on the View complex on Old Chapel Hill Road. Police said that her death was a homicide, but they did not elaborate on how she died. They do not believe the crime was random.
Sept. 8, 2012
The Chapel Hill Police Department has set up a tip-line in hopes of getting more information from the community.
Sept. 9, 2012
Deirdre Francis organized a vigil for her best friend, Faith Danielle Hedgepeth, in her hometown of Warrenton Sunday night.
"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.
Sept. 10, 2012
A vigil is held at UNC in Faith's memory.
Sept. 12, 2012
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Board of Trustees pledges $25,000 for information leading to an arrest or arrests in Hedgepeth's death.
Sept. 14, 2012
Neighbors begin to express concern about the lack of information from police, as well as the fact that no arrest had been made.
"It's evolved from, 'It's not random,' to 'OK, there's going to be an arrest. Something's going to happen. It was an isolated incident,' to 'There's been no arrest, no news, nothing,’" said Anna Salomon. Salomon and her husband then lived in the subdivision next to the complex where Hedgepeth was killed.
Chapel Hill police said they were tirelessly working to solve the case.
Sept. 22, 2012
Hedgepeth's family said they are holding onto faith that their daughter's life was a blessing to the world and that justice will be served in her death.
"I feel like if we're patient, they're going to get the right person," Hedgepeth's sister, Rolanda, said.
Sept. 25, 2012
Radio transmissions to Durham County's 911 center indicated blood was found in the apartment where Hedgepeth was found, but all 911 recordings and other investigative information have been sealed by court order.
At this point, police have not publicly identified any suspects.
Oct. 5, 2012
Four weeks after Hedgepeth's death, her family met with investigators but got few answers to their many questions about her death.
"All they have said to us and to the public, to the media, to everybody (is) that this wasn't random. How do they know that?" asked Hedgepeth's brother, Chad Hedgepeth.
The family met with Durham County District Attorney Leon Stanback and three other prosecutors to discuss the case.
"Do they have a suspect? Do they have any suspects? How many do they have? Do they have more than one?" Chad Hedgepeth wonders. "Tell us something, because being in the dark on any and everything these past four weeks has been brutal."
Oct. 8, 2012
Hedgepeth's sister tells WRAL she had been helping a friend deal with an abusive relationship a few months before her death.
Rolanda Hedgepeth said that her sister had taken a friend to a Durham County courthouse in July to get a restraining order against the woman's ex-boyfriend.
In the application, the woman noted two occasions on which the man in question broke down doors in her apartment.
"I just wanted both of them to be safe," Rolanda Hedgepeth said. Her sister moved in with the friend, and it was in their shared apartment that her body was found.
Oct. 25, 2012
Hedgepeth's family says they are getting discouraged about an arrest ever being made in the case.
"I'm starting to lose hope at this point. I don't know any other way to put it," her father, Roland Hedgepeth, said Thursday. "I'm just getting really concerned."
Nov. 14, 2012
Then- Gov. Bev Perdue announces the state is offering an additional $10,000 in reward money for information leading to a conviction.
Jan. 8, 2013
A new discovery summons hope in the case.
FBI analysts issue a profile of the man they believe killed Hedgepeth after police found DNA evidence in her apartment. Chapel Hill police said Hedgepeth and her roommate went to The Thrill, a local nightclub, the previous night and that she was last known to be alive at 3 a.m. on Sept. 7.
Investigators said the North Carolina State Crime Lab has found DNA left in the apartment by an unidentified man. They didn't disclose where the DNA was found, but they expressed confidence that it would lead them to Hedgepeth's killer.
"I believe it will be solved sooner than people think," said her father, Roland Hedgepeth. "I believe this is a new beginning in the investigation."
The FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit has told police that they believe the killer knew Hedgepeth and might have lived near her in the past and that he might have made comments about her to close associates.
Feb. 24, 2013
The band Dark Water Rising makes a music video to remember Hedgepeth at the Haliwa-Saponi Tribal Powwow Grounds in Hedgepeth's hometown of Hollister.
Sept. 7, 2013
A year after her death, hundreds of friends and family members gathered at UNC's Bell Tower Amphitheater for a silent walk to celebrate Hedgepeth's life.
March 19, 2014
A Superior Court judge said he needs more information before deciding whether to unseal search warrants and other records in the investigation.
Lawyers for several Triangle news organizations, including WRAL News, have asked repeatedly that official documents in the case be opened to the public. Chapel Hill police investigators have said that releasing the information would compromise their investigation.
July 2, 2014
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.
"There's blood everywhere," her roommate told a 911 dispatcher, according to a recording of the call released. "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.
Sept. 4, 2014
Almost exactly two years after Hedgepeth was found dead, new details were released in the investigation.
Police 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.
Sept. 5, 2014
An autopsy report is made public and the findings show Hedgepeth died as the result of a severe beating to the head.
The 15-page report found Hedgepeth suffered extensive skull fractures and cuts to her face and head, and she was also badly beaten on her arms and legs.
The document was among hundreds of pages of notes, search warrants and court orders unsealed in an effort by Chapel Hill police to generate new leads in the unsolved murder investigation.
Sept. 26, 2016
Chapel Hill Police release a composite sketch and report that they believe could help identify the man responsible for the 2012 murder of Faith Hedgepeth. A "snapshot tool" created by Parabon NanoLabs created a 3-D sketch of the suspect based on his DNA traits.
Sept. 27, 2016
Around Hedgepeth’s 24th birthday and four years after the death of the UNC-Chapel Hill student, family members say they remain confident that justice will be served in the case.
“We’ve always been optimistic since day one. We feel like the person will be caught,” said Rolanda Hedgepeth.
Sept. 6, 2017
Five years after her death, a Native American sorority, Alpha Pi Omega, holds a vigil in Hedgepeth's memory.
“It is especially important to make sure her name is out there and people don’t stop talking about it until her perpetrator is put behind bars,” said sorority member Gabrielle James.
Aug. 4, 2018
Nearly six years after her death, Hedgepeth's family says they're 'always hopeful' for a break in the case.
The birthdays and holidays come and go, but the pain lingers for Hedgepeth's family.
“It’s really hard, hard because of knowing what happened and not knowing why it happened. Who did it?” Hedgepeth’s sister, Rolanda Hedgepeth, said.
Aug. 16, 2020
Dozens of people gather in Carrboro for a vigil for Hedgepeth at Vecino Brewing. Along with Hedgepeth, they remembered other Native American women who have died.
Sept. 16, 2021
Miguel Enrique Salguero-Olivares was taken into police custody Thursday morning and is currently being held at Durham County Detention Facility under no bond.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said during Thursday's press conference that an arrest in the case was possible after the State Bureau of Investigation and the Chapel Hill Police Department submitted a DNA sample to the State Crime Lab that matched the DNA profile found at the original crime scene.
"When Celisa [Lehew] called me today and told me they made an arrest, my mind ... I went right back to September 2012," said Roland Hedgepeth, Faith Hedgepeth's father. "It's been a long nine years and nine days. I want to thank God for allowing me to stay alive to see this day."
"We had more than a dozen analysts work on this case at some point over the last nine years," said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein. "And of course they only got evidence because of our incredible dedication and hard work of the Chapel Hill Police Department and the State Bureau of Investigation. These law enforcement folks never gave up on this case."