Memorial Walk Honors Slain Native Student One Year Later
More than 150 students and community members walked silently September 7 to honor Faith Hedgepeth on the one-year anniversary of her death.
Faith, a 19-year-old student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a member of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe, was last seen alive at about 3 a.m. September 7, 2012. She was found dead in her off-campus apartment later that day and police ruled the death a homicide. One year later, friends and family still seek answers.
“I don’t know what to say anymore,” said Roland Hedgepeth, Faith’s father. “It’s been a year with no resolution, no arrests, no answers. It’s really frustrating, but we don’t give up. We still have faith that it’s going to be solved.”
Hedgepeth participated in the walk Saturday, hosted by Alpha Pi Omega Sorority, the nation’s first and oldest sorority for American Indian women. During its July meeting, the sorority voted to extend honorary posthumous membership to Faith.
Everyone who participated in the walk carried a carnation, said Chelsea Barnes, social director for the sorority and an event organizer. They met at the university’s Bell Tower Amphitheater and walked in silence along a campus path.
“We wanted to give the university community a chance to come together and remember Faith,” said Barnes, a junior at UNC and a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. “It was also a way for the community outside the university to remember her and to let the police know that we haven’t forgotten, that we want justice for her.”
Chapel Hill police also observed the one-year anniversary of Faith’s death, said Sgt. Bryan Walker. Just days before the memorial, the department distributed a news release again asking for anyone with information about the murder to come forward.
“A year ago, Faith’s family and friends, as well as the University of North Carolina and the community of Chapel Hill suffered a terrible loss,” the release states. “Investigators are appealing to members of the public to think back to that day – September 7, 2012 – to try and remember anything out of the ordinary they might have witnessed. The smallest remembered detail may be of great importance to the investigation.”
In January, the police department released a profile of the suspect based on DNA evidence left at the scene. The police are seeking a male suspect who may have lived near the victim, was unaccounted for during the time of the murder and who may have made comments regarding the victim. Police also believe the suspect’s behavior may have changed after the murder, including his performance at work or school, and that he may have left the area unexpectedly afterward.
When reached by phone, Walker said the police had no further information to release. A judge last month resealed all records in the case, including 911 calls, search warrants and medical examiner reports—all documents that typically are open to the public.
“The police department understands that the community wants information about the case,” the release states. “Our priority remains maintaining the integrity of the investigation to ensure that Faith’s killer is brought to justice.”
Although the investigation is frustrating, nothing will change the way Roland Hedgepeth remembers his daughter.
“She was probably my best friend,” he said. “For the biggest part of her life, we were very close. She’s alive in our memories every day, all day. There’s not a time we’re not thinking of her.”
Anyone with information can contact the Chapel Hill Police Department at 919-614-6363 or Crimestoppers at 919-942-7515. Citizens also can email tips to investigators at firstname.lastname@example.org. Calls to Crimestoppers are confidential and callers are eligible for a reward of up to $39,000.