The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday March 26th

Faith Hedgepeth records to be reviewed on March 17

The sealing order will expire today on the records related to the homicide of Faith Hedgepeth.

Hedgepeth was a UNC junior when she was found dead in her apartment on Sept. 7, 2012.

Media motion

The Daily Tar Heel joined several other media organizations to file a motion asking the court to vacate the sealing orders:

  • Some of the orders were issued before search warrants were served, meaning they were grounded in speculation.
  • The sealing orders were not narrowly tailored in scope or duration.
  • The court did not outline a compelling government interest for keeping the records sealed.

Three days after her death, a Durham County Superior Court judge sealed multiple search warrants and a 911 call associated with Hedgepeth’s case.

Every 60 days, Durham District Attorney Leon Stanback requests for the court to reseal the documents.

On Thursday, Stanback would not comment on what his plans were for the expiring order today.

The Daily Tar Heel, Capital Broadcasting Company, Inc. and the News and Observer Publishing Company filed a motion asking the court to vacate the sealing orders earlier this month.

Superior Court Judge Howard Manning will hear the media companies’ case today at 10 a.m.

“The orders themselves need to be narrowly tailored,” said Mike Tadych, an attorney representing the media companies.

“We don’t have any idea of what would be provided to a judge that would support this sealing order.”

The media companies argue the courts did not outline a compelling interest that justifies keeping the records sealed for so long, which is required under the North Carolina Public Records Law and the North Carolina constitution.

The media companies said some of the orders to seal the records were issued before search warrants were served — meaning the sealing orders for the records were likely grounded in speculation.

No new information

Chapel Hill Police is the investigating agency for Hedgepeth’s homicide, which occurred in the Durham County portion of Chapel Hill.

Lt. Josh Mecimore, a spokesman for the Chapel Hill Police Department, said he could not comment on the ongoing investigation.

Police collected DNA evidence left at the scene by a male suspect in the days following her murder.

The records related to Hedgepeth’s case have been sealed for 18 months, but no new information has been released in Hedgepeth’s case since January 2013, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Behavioral Analysis Unit released a profile of a suspect.

The profile said the suspect might have been familiar with Hedgepeth and lived near her in the past. His behavior might have changed after the murder.

A good sign

Stanback would not comment on how he felt about the media company’s motion.

In the past, Stanback has said unsealing the records would jeopardize the police department’s investigation.

Stanback said Thursday that his office is still working hard on Hedgepeth’s case to name a killer.

Tadych said it’s early to tell how the case will fare.

“The fact that they’re even having a hearing on the motion (is a good sign),” he said.

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