What scares Connie Hedgepeth most about her daughter’s homicide is the unknown.
Faith Danielle Hedgepeth was a junior at UNC when she was found dead in her Hawthorne at the View apartment on Sept. 7, 2012. Chapel Hill Police confirmed Thursday she was beaten to death.
After two years and thousands of hours of police work, the Chapel Hill Police Department released new details of its investigation Thursday in a choreographed series of press conferences in the hopes that someone would come forward with new information.
A new timeline of Faith Hedgepeth’s last night showed she spent part of her last night at Davis Library with her roommate Karena Rosario. She arrived home to her apartment, not long after midnight.
Shortly before 1 a.m. on Sept. 7, 2012, the two went to the East Rosemary Street nightclub The Thrill, which has since closed. They left the bar at 2:38 a.m. and drove home. Police believe Rosario left the apartment again at 4:27 a.m. When Rosario returned home at 11 a.m. she found Hedgepeth on the floor, leaned against her bed.
“I think about that morning,” Connie Hedgepeth said in a video plea to the public. “It’s all in my head, I can imagine things happening to her. It’s not settled. I don’t know all that happened to her that night. I don’t know anything.”
An autopsy confirmed Faith Hedgepeth was beaten to death, said Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue.
“We have an excellent case, we have lots of good evidence,” Blue said. “We are absolutely convinced we will solve this case. What we need to do is connect that evidence to the killer.”
Police have also asked the Durham County District Attorney to release all search warrants for the case today.
While collecting a sexual assault kit, police said they recovered DNA samples from semen, which matched other DNA found at the scene.
“It is our belief that the DNA belongs to Faith’s killer,” Blue said in a press conference Thursday.
During the press conference, police also released copies of a note found at the scene, which had the words “I’m not stupid,” “bitch” and “jealous” written on a fast-food bag. Police believe the note was written by Hedgepeth’s killer.
“These are the things we think are most helpful to our case right now,” Blue said during the conference.
Police have collected and analyzed hundreds of DNA samples. The samples submitted for comparison included oral swabs, said Josh Mecimore, a spokesman for the Chapel Hill Police Department.
“None of the samples have been found to match the DNA profile of the offender,” the police statement said.
And people have declined to submit a DNA sample, Mecimore said in an email following the press conference.
In a profile of the killer released in January 2013, Chapel Hill Police and the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit said the killer might have been familiar with Hedgepeth and lived near her in the past.
The person might have also made comments about her in the past, and his behavior might have changed after the murder. The person would have been unaccounted for during the early hours of Sept. 7, 2012.
Police said Thursday the investigation has spanned outside of North Carolina.
Blue said the smallest information could lead to a break in the case.
“With the public’s help we can bring some peace to Faith’s family, some closure to the UNC community and the Chapel Hill community,” Blue said. “Since Sept. 7, 2012 a killer has been on the loose and has not been held accountable.”
Roland Hedgepeth, Faith Hedgepeth’s father, also pleaded for someone to come forward with information. Roland Hedgepeth has been heavily involved with the police department’s homicide investigation from the beginning.
“I am so convinced that it’s just the difference in solving this case and it going cold is just one fact,” he said in a video released by police. “I beg the public to please help us. Faith deserves justice.”
Police had released little information about the case before this summer, when Judge Howard Manning ordered the Durham County district attorney to release redacted search warrants and the 911 call alerting police to Faith Hedgepeth’s body.
The 911 call was placed by Rosario, who said on the call that she didn’t think Hedgepeth was breathing when she found her. Rosario told the operator several times there were items in the room that were not hers and that it looked like someone else had been there.
“There’s stuff in my room that wasn’t here before,” she said during the call. “It looks like someone came in here. It really does.”
While she hopes the information released Thursday will encourage people to come forward, Carmen Wood, a friend of Faith Hedgepeth who graduated in May, said she’s worried police waited too long.
“The waiting game is not fun,” Wood said. “When you don’t know anything and every couple of months, or every year, you have to find new things out, it’s like reliving the whole day all over again.”
Blue said his team would do everything to bring Faith Hedgepeth’s killer to justice.
“If the killer out there is hearing this message, we will catch you,” Blue said. “We expect you to come in, but if you don’t, we’ll catch you.”
This timeline was compiled by online editor Paige Ladisic.
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