One year later, Faith Hedgepeth's killer is still loose

Sep. 06, 2013 @ 09:40 PM

CHAPEL HILL — One year later, the family of Faith Hedgepeth remains frustrated.

Hedgepeth, a member of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe from Warren County, was a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was found dead in her apartment by her roommate at the Hawthorne at the View apartment complex on Old Chapel Hill Road one year ago today.

A memorial walk is planned this evening on campus.

Consuela Richardson, Hedgepeth’s first cousin, said the family continues to struggle with the devastating loss and is experiencing an “extremely high level of frustration” because the killer remains free.

“They tell us all the time that they’re not allowing the case to go cold, but at the same time they don’t give us any details,” Richardson said of police investigators. “The person who did this is continuing to walk around and we don’t know if they’re hiding in the dark or are right in front of our face.”

Richardson understands police are keeping the details of the murder secret in order to not tip off the killer about what they know, but said that doesn’t ease the family’s frustration.

Hedgepeth’s brother, Chad Hedgepeth, agreed with Richardson.

“We understand why, but it’s still frustrating they won’t give us any information at all,” Chad Hedgepeth said. “We don’t know anymore today than we knew the day after it happened.”

Chad Hedgepeth said the family talks to investigators with the Chapel Hill Police Department at least once a week, and is doing all that it can to help find his sister’s killer.

“We hope someone will come forward with some information,” Chad Hedgepeth said. “Someone has to know something about what happened.”

Robinson had this message for the person responsible for her cousin’s death: “No one has forgotten about this, so don’t think for a minute that it’s all cool and you can just continue to walk around free.”

The Chapel Hill Police Department has released few details about the circumstances surrounding Faith Hedgepeth’s death other than to say it’s being investigated as a homicide and that DNA found at the scene belongs to a male suspect.

On Thursday, police issued a statement saying the department understands that the community wants more information about the case and assuring the public that the murder has not become a cold case.

“Our priority remains maintaining the integrity of the investigation to ensure that Faith’s killer is brought to justice,” the statement said. “We appreciate this understanding and support shown by Faith’s family as we continue to investigate the death.”

Meanwhile, tonight’s walk at 7:30, sponsored by the Alpha Chapter of Alpha Pi Omega Sorority, Inc., and the Xi Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., will begin at the Bell Tower Amphitheater beside the Genome Science Building and end at the Old Well.

Over the summer, Hedgepeth was inducted posthumously into the Alpha Chapter of Alpha Pi Omega Sorority during the sorority’s national convention.

The sorority is predominately comprised of Native Americans but not exclusively.

She had dreams of becoming a doctor so she could provide medical care in her home community.

“This is still heavy on our minds,” said Chelsea Barnes, a UNC student from Hope Mills who is a member of the sorority. “We wanted to give the UNC community a chance to show that we haven’t forgotten.”

March participants will carry carnations during the walk and leave them at the Old Well, where a table to collect donations for the Faith Hedgepeth Memorial Scholarship for freshman women.

Amy Locklear-Hertel, director of the American Indian Center at UNC, will be the speaker. And Harmonyx and Unheard Voices will perform.

Anyone with information about the crime should call the Chapel Hill Police Department tip line at (919) 614-6363 or Crime Stoppers at (919) 942-7515.

Citizens may also email tips and information to investigators at crimetips@townofchapelhill.org.

Calls to Crime Stoppers are confidential and callers are eligible for up to a $39,000 reward without further involvement in this case.

Contact the writer at gchildress@heraldsun.com.