Friday, October 18, 2013

MY COLUMN FROM THE DURHAM NEWS - ON: SEARCH WARRANTS -- why are all of them still sealed?

The CrimeStoppers number for this case is 919-942-7515. Use it if you know something.

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Below is the link to the column of mine that ran in The Durham News (part of the News & Observer), on 10/1/13. On the issue of secrecy. On the issue of this unusual aspect of Faith Hedgepeth's case.  On the issue of search warrants, and why...


http://www.thedurhamnews.com/2013/10/01/3242563/gasparoli-why-the-secrecy-in-hedgepeth.html

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I also ask that if readers have information they want me to know, my email is listed at top right. You can also reach me at writerdude1@gmail.com. If necessary, there are ways to set up an email account where I can not see who you are. If that doesn't work, send a note to TG at 1818 MLK Jr. Blvd., Suite 282, Chapel Hill, NC, 27514.  Write whatever you want about the case. Give me instructions how to contact or stay in touch with you, if you can.

You can leave information here, too — as a few of you have...but depending on what it is and how it should be handled, I may remove it from others' eyes.

I welcome any respectful, civil thoughts, insights or most important, something you know is relevant.

The goal: answers to what happened, or how to get them.

Thanks.

TG

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

AN EERIE QUIET. UNTIL...

It's been quiet on the Faith Hedgepeth investigation front. That's usually how the SBI operates. Quietly.

It's true: Chapel Hill Police were quiet, too, for a year — but when they asked the SBI to assist two weeks ago, you can bet SBI agents are on it.

I talked to a few people who would know what's up, if anything big was up. One person confirmed that that SBI agents have met in person with Chapel Hill police — no surprise.

This person confirmed how much work there was for agents to do to get caught up, to sift through immense amounts of information, to develop and fine-tune a strategy afterward.

Another said: "There's a lot of processing to do. Maybe thousands of pages worth."

I'd guess right about now the SBI is on the verge of, or already starting to talk to some people again. To re-ignite the probe.

I would not be surprised if investigators to date — Chapel Hill investigators — have already talked to the murderer. There is a circle of suspects... .

I have a number of the key names, suspects or not, in those voluminous case files. I have wanted to interview some of these men and women myself, and in a few cases I have tried.

No response. More quiet.

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The flurry of publicity surrounding Faith's case over the one-year anniversary period in late September brought closer scrutiny.

The push to bring in the SBI, mostly a behind-the-scenes effort, paid dividends. The investigation was simply not moving at a pace that satisfied anyone.

Two sources have told me they believe there was some reluctance from the CHPD to have the SBI "come in" for the duration of Faith's case...based on reasons that might have something to do with the Eve Carson case several years ago. Not in any way saying the cases were linked, but that something about the SBI involvement back then may have played a part in whether the state agency was asked to be heavily involved at the outset this time...after Faith's murder. If true, that is past. The SBI is involved in a significant way now.

In March of 2008, Eve Carson was another UNC student murdered heinously, and she was left out on the street in the heart of town. Two men were eventually caught and convicted, but that might never have occurred...except that they were just plain dumb. Ruthless and dumb both.

Demario James Atwater and Laurence Alvin Lovette.

They pair drove around to ATMs with Eve trapped in the back. Pictures were taken by ATM cameras. Prosecutors said one man left DNA evidence in Eve's car.

There was loose talk later. People listened. Then those people talked. Police got word. Case got solved.

Imagine, though, what every day before that was like for Eve's loved ones. And every day since. Sure, they have factual answers about what happened. They have no idea why it had to happen, how it could happen.

Most important, they don't have Eve.

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The case still took extensive legwork, but it was solved.

Eve's case, especially the news from court testimony that she asked her kidnappers to pray with her...just before they shot her multiple times, was and still is a monumental task to  process mentally. As Faith's case is.

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The person or persons involved in Faith Hedgepeth's death appear to be just as savage...but not dumb.

Maybe they haven't talked at all, which would be highly surprising and unusual in itself. Or, maybe they've talked, but have instilled so much fear that anyone who came to know anything important is afraid to come forward.

Maybe there is an accomplice, one not prepared to pay the price that would come with admission.

But: you would think an informed party — with a developed conscience, that is — would send a message anonymously, just to get concrete information to police...or someone else who can do something with it. There are so many ways to communicate. Even through a third person.

But...no. Quiet.

It may also emerge that whatever someone knows about the case or the attacker is simply not enough to lead to a criminal charge. Not by itself.

Such a troubling thought: is Faith's case a case with so little "good" evidence that it will hinge only on a mistake or mistakes by the killer(s)?

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Do authorities believe they know who did it but just can't prove it? At one point, that may have been true. Today, I don't think so. There does not seem to be a consensus, at least.

In my recent conversations, I was given a stronger hint about the suspected murder weapon, as well as a better idea of the source of the recovered DNA that Chapel Hill authorities have spoken about. Rather, what the DNA is probably not from.

These details are still not crystal clear to me, though, and they are also, at least now, too crucial to the investigation to discuss publicly.

They may help fill out part of a terrible picture, but only people who were there know the whole picture.

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The SBI will now do what it does. Let's hope it's enough to shake something loose.

Faith herself deserves the truth about her death to be told. She needs to have the last word.



Her case, for most of us on outside looking in, is as difficult to understand as Eve Carson's was. But understanding pales in comparison to the importance of solving it.

I think (and I am by no means alone) that in the end the sordid story will likely have something to do with a man who desperately wanted Faith's attention and affection for himself (or no one could have her), or a man who didn't get what he wanted — or an answer he wanted — in the first place. Maybe just that night. Maybe over time.

Or, a man so jealous he lost control of any reason, any empathy, any humanity. He didn't, however, lose the control to make absolutely sure he left Faith no chance to survive.

Or a woman, perhaps, so envious or enraged or afraid — or foolish — or who'd lost total touch with right and wrong...that she played a role — before and/or during and/or after.

All of these scenarios involve someone who,knew Faith. And if they knew her, they knew how wonderful the 19-year old was.

And murdered her anyway.

In the height of self-obsession, someone committed an act riveted and consumed with cold.

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Let's hope the SBI injects new passion and purpose and precision into the case. I am certain their agents will. I'm certain Chapel Hill did the same.

But every case has to have evidence. Solid evidence. Where is it?

Many believe resolution will start and end with a secret...that someday remains a secret no more.

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

SBI ASKED TO COME INTO HEDGEPETH MURDER INVESTIGATION

It's happened. Something many wanted to see happen quite some time ago. The Chapel Hill police will get some significant investigative assistance in a major, unsolved murder case involving the September, 2012 murder of UNC student Faith Hedgepeth.

Last Thursday the 26th, Chapel Hill police chief Chris Blue, after consultation with Durham District Attorney Leon Stanback and his lead prosecutors, formally asked the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) to come in and work on Faith's case. See below, for part of an email I recently received from state authorities.

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.

The SBI will meet with the Chapel Hill Police Department and Durham District Attorney's Office in the coming days to discuss the case.

NC Department of Justice

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The Chapel Hill News and the News & Observer have the story up on their sites right now.



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This step with the SBI means more personnel power, new and fresh eyes, and, quite likely, a closer look at everyone and everything who's been looked at before: all the interviews, evidence, scenarios...everything.

It may not help solve the case, but it can't hurt. This case, for a number of reasons, is complex. There is DNA, but there is some difference of opinion within the investigation over whether that DNA is actually from the murderer, or whether where it was found and how it could have gotten there — is specific enough to arrest, charge and convict someone who may match it. Perhaps there are other valid reasons to explain its presence, or reasons a defense attorney could put forward.

There are a number of people who were very close or fairly close to Faith who have been talked to and examined. I'd say they should probably expect a call from the SBI...maybe a visit.

There are people, one or two in particular I am aware of, who just may not be telling the whole truth about what they know, or even what they did. The attention to them, I suspect, will increase now.

It is possible the actual murderer (if it's just one person, and authorities seem to think it is), has already sat in the Chapel Hill police station — or perhaps his own den — and answered questions. Chilling, but not at all out of the question. He may have thought for a long time now that he's gotten away with it. 

The message now is clear: authorities are far from giving up. The case of a 19-year old student being murdered is not going into the circular file. The Chapel Hill Police, the SBI and the Durham DA's office are going at this case strong now, nearly thirteen months after Faith died very violently in an apartment bedroom.

It was the kind of scene even veteran law enforcement personnel cannot put out of their minds. It has been described to me, and I can't shake it, either. But that's a whole lot different from seeing it. 

There are men and women who were at the scene, and many who were not, whose job is it to find justice. It's a lot of pressure; CHPD has felt for a year. The department deserves much credit for holding steady, not letting it go, keeping Faith's case in the public eye. One can only imagine how much legwork they have done.

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There may be people now out of state who need to be talked to again. A person or persons Faith may have worked with at a Durham restaurant., for example.

Possibilities abound: that this was a stalker who met or saw Faith in passing the first time...or someone intensely jealous, or someone "attached" to Faith who hails from her tribal community near Hollister, N.C....or someone else who somehow knew Faith was alone at 3:30 or 4 on a Friday morning — and found it easier than expected to get in to her apartment. Did she let him in or did he walk right in because the door was not locked? As she slept....

What does Faith's cellphone show about the last people she talked or texted? Could the murderer have "faked" a text — or more than one — to throw off investigators later?

How strong are the alibis provided by those asked for them? Those who say they were alone...hard to prove or disprove sometimes.

Then again, the person who did this could be a stranger who just drove off of I-40 at 15-501 — and drove three turns, one mile, two minutes — to her roommate's place...and ended up, completely by chance, at that complex, at that unit, at that door. Someone for whom murder is part of his cruel and sociopathic nature. Police have suggested otherwise time and again; they have indicated this was not random act, in their view. But, minus more information, I don't see that as certain.

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I've been told the most focus has long been on Faith's "circle"...and there are a number of people in it who may have been emotionally motivated to attack Faith as she was. But, that person has not revealed enough yet...to  allow authorities to close in on him. If true, he has successfully hidden his deepest emotions, apparently. He may have cleared the DNA test, as well. 

If he's talked, he's talked to someone else who won't talk. 

Complicated case, indeed. In the end, it may not look that way. It may be exactly what authorities in Chapel Hill have thought privately all along — but they just didn't have enough to make a case.

Someone with knowledge of the case said to me the other day: "There just isn't evidence."

What does that mean? Someday, we'll see. Maybe there isn't enough now...or maybe the evidence to move forward, at least, is a tiny item tucked in a file somewhere...and the SBI review can ferret it out. 

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These are the toughest cases. You have to have evidence. Theories or suspicions aren't enough. Evidence can include what someone tells you. That can get a door open, and things fall into place after that.

Not to mention: other investigative steps we don't know about...ongoing steps. Perhaps they will be intensified, or new ones added to the mix. Much of what's been done in this case has been kept under wraps. But there will be additional, bolstered action; I am sure about that.

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Faith's family, of course, wants that action. They want an end to it. They want a murderer found. They want a better chance of sleeping at night. They want to know who took their daughter's life away.





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