Police ask SBI for more help in Hedgepeth killing

tgrubb@newsobserver.comOctober 1, 2013 

Faith Hedgepeth

UNC NEWS SERVICES

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— Police contacted the State Bureau of Investigation last week for more help investigating the death of UNC junior Faith Hedgepeth in her off-campus apartment a year ago.

Hedgepeth would have turned 21 Friday.

SBI spokeswoman Jennifer Canada said in an email Friday that the agency got a letter last Thursday from Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue.

“I can confirm that the SBI received an additional request from Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue yesterday to assist in the Faith Hedgepeth murder case. The SBI assisted Chapel Hill police in a limited role during the early stages of the investigation,” Canada wrote.

Hedgepeth was killed Sept. 7, 2012, at her Hawthorne on the View apartment on Old Chapel Hill Road.

The complex is in the Chapel Hill town limits, but in Durham County. Any case would be prosecuted in Durham County.

The 19-year-old biology major had spent the night before dancing with friends at The Thrill nightclub in Chapel Hill. She was last seen around 3 a.m. Her roommate found the body around 11 a.m..

Police said they are withholding key details, including how Hedgepeth was killed, to keep from compromising the case. They have not made any arrests but have asked repeatedly for public help.

Blue was out of the office on Sept. 27. Police spokesman Sgt. Bryan Walker said the SBI has been helping all along, and he didn’t know about a letter.

Durham County District Attorney Leon Stanback confirmed that police, the DA’s office and the SBI would meet this week. He referred questions about the letter to Blue. Every situation is different, he said when asked what expertise or tools the SBI might bring to the case.

“We just keep on searching,” Stanback said. “We’re pulling out all the stops.”

The N.C. State Crime Laboratory, under the state Department of Justice, has analyzed DNA and other evidence collected from the scene. Local police also consulted during the investigation with the FBI’s behavioral analysis unit, which provided a profile of the suspect.

A man’s DNA evidence was collected at the scene. Criminal profilers say the suspect might have known Hedgepeth, possibly lived near her at some point, talked about her in the past or showed special interest in the case. The suspect also might have been unaccounted for during the early hours of Sept. 7, 2012, and could have left the area suddenly without explanation.

Police have said the crime was not random, but the case has shaken Hedgepeth’s friends, who fear they may know the person responsible. It also deeply affected the small Halifax County community where Hedgepeth was a member of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe, located about 70 miles north of Raleigh.

Hedgepeth’s father, Roland Hedgepeth, said they stay in regular contact with police – the last time was about two weeks ago – but don’t have much information. He didn’t know about Blue’s letter.

“I believe her mom and I deserve to know something,” he said.

The family has faith the case will be solved, he said, but he also knows it is complex and that local police may have limited resources. The family previously has asked police to bring in extra help.

“It seems like this case is so huge, they need all the help they can get on this,” he said.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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