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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