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 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.
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.
Most important, they don't have Eve.
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.
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.
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)?
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.
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.
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.