Update 09/21/2021 at 2:45 p.m.: The story text has been updated to include details about court hearings in the Faith Hedgepeth investigation.
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Connie Hedgepeth got news Thursday morning that she’s waited nine years and nine days to hear.
A 28-year-old suspect was arrested and charged Thursday with the murder of her daughter, Faith Hedgepeth, who was found beaten to death on Sept. 7, 2012. The suspect’s DNA was a match to that of a profile based on the original crime scene.
Connie cried tears of joy and relief, and thanked God. But she also knew her family’s fight for justice in Faith’s case was not over yet.
“I’m praying and asking God to please, let it not be too long and everything will be revealed that happened that morning of Faith’s death,” she said at a news conference Thursday.
She ended her remarks by asking the community to keep the Hedgepeth family in their prayers — as they’ve done for nearly a decade while the case remains unsolved.
Miguel Enrique Salguero-Olivares of Durham, whose relationship to Hedgepeth is unclear, was charged with first-degree murder in the Hedgepeth investigation, said Assistant Chief of Police Celisa Lehew, the lead investigator in the case.
Details of the case
At the time of her death, Faith Hedgepeth was a junior at UNC and had dreams of becoming a pediatrician. Hedgepeth, a member of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe, was an active member of the Carolina Indian Circle and volunteered at the American Indian Center. Friends and family remember her as bright and warm-hearted, kind to everyone around her.
On Sept. 6, 2012, Hedgepeth attended a rush event for Alpha Pi Omega sorority, an American Indian sorority. She then went to Davis Library to study with her roommate, Karena Rosario, and the pair went home around 7:30 p.m., according to Chapel Hill police information.
After midnight on Sept. 7, Hedgepeth and Rosario went to The Thrill, a nightclub on Rosemary Street. Surveillance footage showed the women leaving around 12:40 a.m. because Rosario wasn’t feeling well, according to police.
Hedgepeth went with Rosario to her off-campus apartment. Rosario told police that she left the apartment around 4:30 a.m. and got back with a friend around 11 a.m.
They found Hedgepeth’s body, surrounded by blood around her head. Rosario called 911.
Hedgepeth was found on a bed, and police collected semen from her body. Police believed that the murder weapon was a bottle of Bacardi Peach Rum found near Hedgepeth’s bed, which they say had DNA and tissue fragments on it. It’s still unclear which of these DNA samples was used to match the suspect’s sample or if the bottle is confirmed to be the murder weapon.
Police also found a note written on a fast-food take-out bag that read, “I’M NOT STUPID BITCH” and “JEALOUS.”
Following Hedgepeth’s death, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said thousands of interviews were conducted as part of the investigation. During Thursday’s news conference, Stein also said that 229 samples were analyzed to rule out suspects.
Before Thursday, the last major updates in the investigation were in 2014 and 2016. In 2014, Durham County court officials unsealed documents to the public, including the autopsy report and search warrants. According to the autopsy, medical examiners determined Hedgepeth’s cause of death to be blunt-force trauma to the head.
In 2016, technology company Parabon NanoLabs, Inc. released a composite sketch of the killer based on phenotype analysis of DNA from the crime scene. Stein said a match between that profile and the suspect was made on Wednesday after the State Bureau of Investigation provided a sample to the state crime lab.
“Today’s important announcement proves the power of partnership, persistence and the potency of DNA,” Stein said.
Wake County court records show Salguero-Olivares was arrested by the Raleigh Police Department on Aug. 16 for driving while impaired.
No further details about the case were revealed during Thursday’s press conference, and the homicide investigation remains active and ongoing. Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry’s office is prosecuting the case.
Salguero-Olivares will remain in Durham County Detention Center without bond, Deberry ruled in his first court hearing Friday.
“It’s alleged that the defendant Miguel Enrique Salguero-Olivares did unlawfully, willfully and feloniously with malice and forethought kill and murder Faith Hedgepeth,” Deberry said.
Deberry's statements were relayed through an interpreter to Salguero-Olivares, who appeared in court virtually, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.
Salguero-Olivares' next hearing will be on Oct. 7.
“Patience will again be asked of you as this story will take some time to completely unfold,” Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said at the Thursday press conference. “Today’s announcement marks the next phase of this investigation and we will again commit to preserving the integrity of this case with everything we’ve got.”
UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz spoke at the conference about the impact of Hedgepeth’s death.
“Her murder shook our community nine years and nine days ago,” Guskiewicz said. “And we continue to feel the impact of her incredible spirit on our campus today.”
Every day for the past nine years, Lehew said she’s thought about Faith and how to bring justice to her and her family.
“I wish I could’ve met her under much different circumstances,” Lehew said. “I’ve learned so much about Faith – her bright, infectious personality, the reasons why she had so many friends and knew so many people around Chapel Hill. Her legacy lives on through all the lives that she touched.”
For Faith’s family, Thursday’s announcement was the news they waited nine years for. But, it was also the start of a new fight for justice.
“Hopefully you all, all the people even that didn’t know her, will always remember her,” Connie Hedgepeth said.
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