Two years after a student was found dead in her off-campus apartment, an autopsy confirmed the UNC junior was beaten to death.
Faith Danielle Hedgepeth died from blunt force trauma to the head, according to a statement from Chapel Hill Police Thursday. Sunday marks the two-year anniversary of Hedgepeth's killing.
In the process of collecting a sexual assault kit, police recovered DNA samples from semen, which matched other DNA evidence found at the crime scene.
“It is our belief that the DNA belongs to Faith’s killer,” Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said in a press conference Thursday.
Timeline of her last night
Police said Hedgepeth, a native of the Haliwa-Saponi American Indian Tribe, spent part of her last night at Davis Library with her roommate Karena Rosario. She arrived home to her Hawthorne at the View apartment not long after midnight.
Shortly before 1 a.m. on Sept. 7, 2012, the two roommates 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 she returned home at 11 a.m. she found Hedgepeth on the floor, leaned against her bed. There was blood splattered on the wall and closet door.
Police said they have surveillance footage from The Thrill.
Police are asking anyone with additional information about Hedgepeth’s last night or her killer to contact Chapel Hill Police on a 24/7 hotline at 919-614-6363.
There is almost $40,000 in reward money available for anyone who comes forward with information about Hedgepeth’s killer.
More to come
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.
Blue also said his department has asked the Durham County district attorney to unseal all records associated with Hedgepeth’s case.
The records were sealed for almost 18 months when The Daily Tar Heel, Capital Broadcasting Company, Inc., and the News and Observer Publishing Company filed a motion asking the court to vacate its sealing orders. In July, Superior Court Judge Howard Manning ordered the district attorney’s office to unseal redacted search warrants and the 911 call alerting police of Hedgepeth’s homicide.
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."
Mountain of evidence
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 department's 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 they believe the person 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 case is still very active, and he had a powerful message for Hedgepeth's killer: “We will catch you."
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