Current Date: Fri, 07 Mar 2014 02:51:00 -0500
At about 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 6, Roland Hedgepeth received a text from his daughter, UNC junior Faith Danielle Hedgepeth.
“Just have faith Daddy. I promise it’ll work out.”
“Just have faith” — it was the expression she was known for, and it was the last thing he would ever hear from her.
A little more than 12 hours later, the then 19-year-old — the girl who was constantly smiling, who loved to joke, who dreamed of becoming a doctor — was found dead in her apartment, the victim of a homicide.
In the almost seven weeks since her death, summer has turned to fall. Hedgepeth missed her 20th birthday, the start of basketball season, and soon she will miss Halloween.
Where there was little information about her death came theories and rumors, and now her name has begun to fade from conversation.
But as the weeks drag on without an arrest, those who knew and loved Hedgepeth remain stuck on the uncertainty surrounding her death — unable to move forward without some sort of resolution.
Hedgepeth’s final day
Interviews conducted with those who had contact with Hedgepeth on Sept. 6 reveal a basic timeline of her last day.
It began much like any other day. She went to classes, saw friends, talked to her family.
At about 5:45 p.m., Hedgepeth arrived at Shadowood Apartments for a rush event for UNC’s chapter of the Alpha Pi Omega sorority — a Native American sorority.
She showed up early because she didn’t know where the apartment was and waited in the car until her friend, junior Victoria Chavis, arrived.
At about 7:15 p.m., Hedgepeth left the event, telling friends that she had a paper to work on. She was working on a project about the history of her tribe — the Haliwa-Saponi tribe of Warren County.
After taking spring semester off, Hedgepeth was working hard to regain her academic standing.
Follwing the rush event, she went to the library. Still there, she texted Roland Hedgepeth at about 8 p.m.
“She asked me what’s wrong. I don’t know how she knew I was right in the middle of a crisis,” he said.
“We texted back and forth, and the last thing she told me was, ‘Just have faith, daddy. I promise it’ll work out.’”
He regrets not calling her then and there.
“I just thought, ‘I’ll just call her tomorrow’, and tomorrow never came, of course,” he said.
At 9:03 p.m., Chavis received her last text from Hedgepeth. They talked about joining Alpha Pi Omega and the event they attended earlier that day.
They made plans to catch up over the weekend.
The night continues
After leaving the library, Hedgepeth returned to her apartment at Hawthorne at the View — located about four miles from campus — where she shared a one-bedroom apartment with Karena Rosario.
Rosario and Hedgepeth met as freshmen at UNC, and they became closer during the spring semester of that year.
Rosario, Hedgepeth and another student who is no longer at UNC moved to Glen Lennox Apartments in the summer of 2011.
After subleasing Chavis’ apartment from late April to July 31, Hedgepeth needed somewhere to live until her financial aid was cleared to help pay for another apartment. She planned on moving into a room in Chavis’ apartment after the financial aid came through.
That night, Hedgepeth and Rosario went to The Thrill — a popular dance club on East Rosemary Street — where they met up with two men who lived in the same apartment complex.
One was a rapper, and the other was the cousin of Takoy Jones — Rosario’s ex-boyfriend.
Rosario had filed a restraining order in Durham County court against Jones on July 11, citing multiple violent encounters. Hedgepeth drove her to the courthouse to take out the restraining order.
According to the restraining order, Rosario and Jones previously lived in the apartment she later shared with Hedgepeth.
On July 5, Jones — who was also arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia on April 27 — broke into the bedroom, threatened Rosario and pushed her to the ground, according to the order.
Less than a week later, on July 10, Jones broke into her apartment again after Rosario had changed the locks, the order states.
An uncertain ending
Sometime on the night of Sept. 6, while they were at The Thrill, Rosario got sick, and she and Hedgepeth went back to their apartment.
Up until about 3:30 a.m., Hedgepeth sent out text messages. But the events leading up to her violent death remain unclear.
At 11 a.m. the next morning, Rosario called 911 and told police she had found Hedgepeth’s body.
According to communications among Durham emergency responders, Hedgepeth was found in her bedroom, and there was blood.
At 3:45 p.m. on Sept. 7, the Chapel Hill Police Department announced that Hedgepeth had been found in her apartment that morning.
In the release, Chapel Hill police said they didn’t believe it was a random act.
Soon after, they confirmed that her death was a homicide.
Friday will mark seven weeks since Hedgepeth was killed — and except for a press release about a police tip line — no new information has been released.
Search warrants and the 911 call have been sealed by Durham judges at the request of Chapel Hill police, who cite the need to protect the integrity of the investigation.
But those who knew Hedgepeth continue to seek justice.
“We’re begging anyone who has any information whatsoever that they think is pertinent to Faith’s killer please come forward,” said Roland Hedgepeth.
“Please help the family, please help Chapel Hill police, her community, her friends … All are still suffering.”
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