Eleven days after Faith Hedgepeth, a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was murdered in her off-campus apartment, police still have not made an arrest.
Hedgepeth, a biology major attending school on a Gates Millennium Scholarship and a member of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe, was found dead at about 11 a.m. on Friday, September 7. Her apartment is about three miles from campus.
Chapel Hill police are not releasing information about the investigation. The department has not named suspects or made arrests, Sgt. Josh Mecimore said.
“The speculation out there is just speculation,” he said. “The reason we’re not releasing information is that it helps us in our investigation. When we’re questioning people, there are certain things only a person involved would know. If we don’t release information, it helps us to know whether people were involved or if they just heard it or read it in the media.”
The police department has not yet released information about cause of death, Mecimore said. It still is waiting for an official report from the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
“We haven’t heard anything back yet,” he said. “Usually we get a preliminary report first. We haven’t seen that yet.”
The university’s board of trustees has pledged a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. The board’s 13 members voted unanimously in favor of offering the reward, which is coming out of members’ pockets, Board Chairman Wade Hargrove said.
“We are deeply saddened by what has happened,” he said. “We wanted to help identify the person or persons responsible. We are prepared to fund this personally to the extent that it will bring justice to this tragedy.”
Although Hargrove did not know Hedgepeth personally, he said her death was a tragedy for the entire university community.
“It’s one of life’s terrible tragedies, but the outpouring of support has been very moving,” Hargrove said. “I haven’t heard a bad word about Faith, though I didn’t know her. She was a delightful, highly disciplined young woman who had a lot to offer. She touched everyone she came in contact with.”
“We were devastated,” he said of her death. “It was so senseless. She had her full life ahead of her.”
Additional rewards also are being offered, including $2,000 from the Chapel Hill Police Department’s Crime Stoppers program and $1,000 each from the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe and Hawthorne at the View Apartments, where Hedgepeth lived.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the police department at 919-614-6363 or Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515.