Unsealed Records Raise More Questions in Murder Case
A superior court judge on July 2 unsealed search warrants and other records in the investigation into the 2012 murder of Faith Hedgepeth, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a member of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe.
For 22 months, prosecutors kept documents and the audio recording of the 911 call sealed, arguing that releasing details could compromise the investigation. After reviewing the records, Judge Howard Manning released them, but allowed much of the information to be redacted to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation.
The autopsy report will remain sealed, Manning ruled, along with three non-testimonial identification applications and orders from people the judge said “are not presently parties to this proceeding and investigation.”
The new information does little to answer the family’s questions, said Hedgepeth’s father, Roland Hedgepeth.
“If anything, it raises more questions,” he said during a phone interview. “There was nothing released that brings any closure for the family.”
Hedgepeth, 19, was found dead September 7, 2012, in her bedroom in an off-campus apartment complex. Authorities have not disclosed how she was killed or released the identity of any possible suspects. No one has been arrested or charged for her murder, but police did say they believe the crime was not random and the suspect likely knew her.
Four months after the murder, in January 2013, police released a profile of their suspect, based on an FBI analysis and DNA evidence left in the apartment by an unidentified man. Since then, police have been mum.
The newly released information provides insights into Hedgepeth’s last moments and what may have happened that night.
“There’s blood everywhere,” Hedgepeth’s roommate, Karena Rosario, told a 911 dispatcher, according to the audio recording released July 2. “I just don’t know what happened.”
Police have stated that Hedgepeth and Rosario went to a local nightclub, The Thrill, the night before Hedgepeth was killed. She was last known to be alive at 3 a.m., and was found dead about eight hours later.
Rosario placed the 911 call at 11:01 a.m. on September 7. She told the dispatcher Hedgepth was unconscious and cold, and that she believed someone had been in the apartment.
When asked if Hedgepeth was breathing, Rosario said, “I don’t know. I don’t think so.”
The search warrants cover Hedgepeth’s apartment, a second apartment in the complex, Hedgepeth’s bank accounts, laptop computers and Facebook accounts belonging to Hedgepeth and Rosario, and a Facebook account belonging to an unidentified person. Bedding, clothes, paperwork and other items were taken from Hedgepeth’s apartment and the second apartment, the warrants state. However, the list of items taken was partially redacted.
The warrants also cover a 1997 Honda Accord and a Nissan Altima owned by Hedgepeth’s mother. The warrant for the Accord shows that analysts took evidence from the back seat and the driver’s side door frame.
Roland Hedgepeth said the family was not aware a second vehicle was searched.
“The search warrants let us know there was another person of interest early on in the investigation,” he said.
With the second anniversary of Hedgepeth’s death approaching, the family is frustrated at the lack of an arrest, or information that reveals exactly what happened, Roland Hedgepeth said.
“Overall, the records raised more questions, and the police still won’t answer any of 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. A reward of up to $39,000 is offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
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