Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Father’s Story on Son, Hedgepeth Case

He messaged me on Facebook and asked me to call. I knew who he was. I called.

He’s the father of a college-age young man who’d been very close to Faith Hedgepeth nearly all his life. They’d been boyfriend and girlfriend at times.

In September, 2012, the UNC-Chapel Hill student was murdered in the apartment where she was staying in Chapel Hill (in a Durham County segment of town). The case is a prominent one.

The son of the caller is also someone that police called in for very tough questioning on at least two occasions – and they got a DNA sample from him, too - as part of the attempt to find out who murdered Faith.

The DNA must not have matched. Police seem to believe the DNA evidence in this case is the murderer’s. Not everyone in law enforcement is 100% convinced of that.

 The father contacted me right after I had written about the murder in another venue. We talked a good bit about an aspect that interested us both, and then I told him I had to ask some hard questions about his son. It's the job.

“That’s fine,” he said. “Ask me what you want.”

Then he added: “But let me say this first: if I ever thought my son was involved in killing Faith, I’d be the first man to put him in my truck and take him down to Chapel Hill to the PD. I didn’t raise my kids that way. I knew Faith nearly her whole life, since she was itty-bitty. I care about her. I want to know who did this. If it were my son, I’d know by looking at him, and so be it. I’m the one who told him Faith was gone.”

It’s said to be common knowledge in Faith’s tiny tribal community in Hollister, NC, that early on, investigators looked at the son intently. People know.

Investigators have looked at many young men intently, most of them in greater Durham and Chapel Hill – still here or who were here at the time. 

The father told me about one of his son’s first interviews with police. The father said they’d asked his son to take his shirt off so investigators could look for scratches, marks, anything to suggest he’d been in a struggle. I assume they found none.

The son told his dad that in another interview with police, a detective repeatedly and harshly said: “You need to give us a name. Give us a name.

The son told his father he kept answering: “I don’t have any name. I don’t know anything.”

My primary remaining question about the father’s son related to alibi. The father confirmed some facts I’d been told. Without going into great detail, the alibi doesn’t seem completely solid, from about three a.m. to six-thirty a.m.

I’m told the son did not have a car. If involved, he’d have to have driven someone else’s vehicle to the Durham County-Chapel Hill line, or have gone there with someone else driving. From a logistical standpoint, at least, it seems feasible. Feasible doesn't mean likely.

The father said: “My son has had some really rough times, emotionally, since Faith’s death. I have been worried about him. I know my kids. If he was lying, I’d know it. Believe me, Faith Hedgepeth was dear to me and my family, and so many others. No one had the right to do this. If my son and I find out who did, well….”

He went on. “What I want most is for someone to say something, and get this case closed. Has to be more than one person who knows the truth. Just has to be.”

Could the phone call to me have been some kind of ploy, some way to deflect suspicion? I really doubt it – the father likely would have called long before he did.
The man answered every question without pause. 

I did ask that the son give me a call. He hasn’t yet – and maybe he won’t. He might not be ready to talk about it yet. Or ever. The son knows I can find him if I felt compelled to ask him something. I don't, right now. Not sure I ever will.

The son does know the column is being published and is not fearful of that.

His father went on to tell me stories about Faith playing on his street as a child – about driving her home from UNC from time to time – after she grew up. He said, as I have heard many times before, that Faith Hedgepeth was a shining light in the tribal community, with a wonderful future.  People were and are immensely proud of her. Always will be.

And, the father said: “Before you ask, the police wanted my DNA, too, so I gave it to them. I’ve got nothing to hide.”

Somebody does. Somebody has everything to hide, and everything to lose. I doubt he/she or they will stay free forever.

You can reach Tom Gasparoli at or 919-219-0042. Texting is fine, too. I do not have to know your name to listen to you, or your message - or read your words, of course. Or to meet with you. You can mail me something at 1818 MLK, Jr. Blvd., #282. Chapel Hill, NC 27514.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


I have listened to and transcribed the 911 call in the Faith Hedgepeth murder case. The transcript begins down below the last photo shown in this post.

I have a copy of the recording but will not post the audio right now. For a number of reasons, I just think that’s best. A few very short excerpts from the call can be heard on Many of you have probably heard/seen that story.


The emergency call that September morning was placed by the young woman who indicated that she came home and discovered Faith “unconscious” in the woman’s apartment bedroom – with “blood everywhere” - late on a Friday morning.

The roommate was a UNC-Chapel Hill student with whom Faith was living at the time.  I have decided not to use her name in this particular post, though many know it.

Two law enforcement sources have told me they believe that another young woman, a close friend and UNC student (also a friend of Faith’s) arrived with the roommate at the apartment. The distinct impression left by the 911 recording is that the 911 caller is alone in the apartment, except for Faith, who is lying apparently motionless on the bedroom floor.

I have reached out in the past to the second woman who may have come to the apartment with the roommate – in hopes of speaking to her…and received no reply.


The audio of the call is difficult to deal with because of its essential proximity to the scene of Faith’s death, the discussion with the operator of Faith’s perceived condition, the unremitting crying the caller displays, and the sense I had of several comments that appear focused more on logic than loss. Just a sense I had. 

There was a lack of spontaneity conveyed at times, too, in my view.

Who can say how any of us would/should react in that situation? Still, I found a few aspects of the call surprising, and in some cases perplexing. That can often be the case with these calls, though. 

I’ve heard scores of 911 recordings over my career. It is usually all but impossible to draw meaningful conclusions from them, except where statements may conflict with facts later learned and confirmed.

Mostly, I think it’s beneficial in this case for the reader to have his or her own natural reaction to the transcript. I do intend to do a little more reporting that stems from the call, so I may add more thoughts at another time.  

A central reason to publish this transcript is the hope that it might stimulate someone who knows something to…say something. The Chapel Hill Police Crime Stoppers number is 919-942-7515. There is a reward for the right information.

The crime was unconscionable. Indefensible, too, if someone is hiding something that could help Faith and her family find justice. Not to mention: murder once…and, well, murder is certainly possible again.

This case is a public safety issue, no question.


I was struck that Faith’s name was never mentioned in the recording. Her name is nowhere on the 911 call, over 7 minute, 42 seconds. The word “friend” is mentioned by the caller only once, in the caller’s very first sentence. The word “roommate” is never mentioned.

Despite the near constant crying displayed, several segments of the call – from a content standpoint – also seemed somewhat…distant, maybe? Again, just a sense I got. It’s one person’s opinion. The high tension and likely shock of the moments could explain almost any sort of reaction by a person who’s present at such a scene.


It’s been almost two years since Faith died...and this 911 call was made. No arrest. No conviction. Someone who knows something critical hasn’t talked. Yet.

The murderer/murderers/any conspirators before or after the fact…should not remain unidentified one more day. Not one more day.  



This is my transcript, not an “official” one by authorities. There may be mistakes I have not caught. I have edited out a very small amount of information that I thought should not be circulating in the public domain. About 50 words were cut, total, and not all from one place. Just some back and forth with a few personal facts stated. The deleted portions do not involve the primary substance or purpose of the call.


“Op” is the 911 operator/dispatcher. “C” is the caller. The caller sounds as if she's crying pretty much from beginning to end.

11:01:44 a.m.    -   September 7, 2012

 – Phone rings

Op: Durham 911, where is your emergency?

C: Hi, um, I just walked into my apartment…and my friend she's, like, she's unconscious.

Op: Okay, what’s your address, ma’am?

C: I live at Hawthorne at the View. Um.

Op: Give me the address.

C: I just moved here. I might forget it.  Oh my God. It’s, um, 56390 Chapel Hill Rd. in Durham.

Op: Ok, repeat it to me…to make sure I’ve got it correct.

C: 56390 Chapel Hill Rd.

Op: Okay, you say your friend is unconscious.

C: She’s unconscious. I just walked into the apartment…and it looks like there’s blood everywhere. I don’t know what’s happening.

Op: Okay, listen to me. Listen to me. Somebody’s already sending the ambulance, okay. I need to get some information from you. And I’m going to tell you how to help her, okay?

C: Okay…I don’t know.

Op: How old is she?

C: She’s 19.

Op: Okay.

C: I don’t know. I don’t want to touch her, but….

Op: Listen to me. Is she breathing?

C: I don’t know.

Op: You need to check. Is she breathing?

C: I don’t think so. I don’t think so.

Op: Okay, listen to me.

C: There’s blood everywhere.

Op: There’s what?

C: There’s blood everywhere.

Op: Okay.

C: I don’t know what happened.

Op: Okay. Is she on her back? Or is she laying on her stomach?

C: She’s on her back, but… like, I think she fell off the bed, cause she’s like…off the bed. There’s blood all over the pillows, like – in the comforter. I just don’t know what happened.

Op: Okay. Alright. Listen to me, alright?

C: Is someone coming? Hurry.

Op: Yes. I’ve got somebody coming. I’ve got somebody coming. I need for you to help her. I need for you to go up to her…we need to see if she’s breathing or not. Okay?

C: I don’t think so.

Op: Okay. Listen to me. Go up – the paramedics are on their way. I want you to stay on the line. I’m gonna tell you what to do next, alright? Are you right by her now?

C: Yes.

Op: Okay. Listen carefully.

C: She’s not moving.

Op: She’s not moving, okay…

C: No.

Op: Okay. Will you touch her arm? Tell me. How does she feel?

C: She’s not moving.

Op: Okay. Ma’am, we need to find out if we can help her or not. You’ve got to do as I’m asking you…so we can help hr.

C: Okay.

Op: Okay. If you can, lay her flat on her back…remove any pillows.

C: Lay her flat on her back?

Op: Lay her flat on her back. Remove any pillows.

C: Okay.

Op: Okay. Kneel next to her. Look in her mouth for food or vomit.

C: There’s blood everywhere.

Op: Okay. Kneel next to her and look in her mouth for food or vomit.

C: There’s blood… (Unintelligible)

I’m sorry. I’m really trying.

Op: It’s okay, honey. It’s okay, hon.

C: There’s blood everywhere. I don’t know where it came from.

Op: Alright. Alright. Listen to me. When you touch her, how does she feel?

C: What?

Op: Does she feel warm?

C: No, she feels cold.

Op: She feels cold. Okay.

C: Yes.

Op: Okay, alright.  Don’t touch anything else. Okay? Don’t touch anything else.

C: (Unintelligible) Hurry.

Op: Okay, they’re on their way. I’ve got police on the way to you. I’ve got medics on the way.

C: I can’t believe this.

Op: Okay. What room is she in?

C: She’s in my bedroom.

Op: Okay. I want you to go back into the living room. Okay?

C: I don’t know what’s going on. Like…there’s stuff in my room that, like, was not here before. Looks like someone had came in here.

Op: Okay.

C: It really does.

It looks like someone came in here. Because…I don’t understand.

Op: Listen to me. Don’t touch anything else in the room.

C: I’m not touching.

Op: I want you to leave that room and go into the living room.

C: I did.

Op: Make sure the door is unlocked. So somebody can get in. So that the medics and police can get in when they get there.

C: It’s unlocked. When are they going to get here, though?

Op: Okay. They’re their way, honey. They’re coming as fast as they can.  You just stay on the phone with me, alright? 

C: I am.

It looks like someone had been in there because…she’s not like this at all. I don’t know why she’s bleeding.

Op: I’ve let them know. We’ve got everybody on the way to help you.

You just… you sit down on the couch and don’t touch anything, okay. You just sit down.

C: I’m not touching anything.

Op: Okay, okay. I just want you to sit down…because the police and the medics are gonna be there.

C: Okay.

Op: They’re coming just as fast as they can, alright?  

C: Okay.

Op: You just stay on the phone with me…you just stay on the phone with me.

C: Are you sure they’re coming?

Op: Yes, ma’am. They are on their way.

C: I just can’t believe this. Someone had to have been in there.

Op: Okay. We’ve got first responders on the way. There’s a fire truck coming. There’s a medic coming. And the sheriff’s department is on the way to you.

C: Okay.

Op: You just stay on the phone with me…until somebody gets there with you.

C: Okay.

Op: Okay…how old are you?

C: I’m 20.

Op: You’re 20. Okay, hon. You’re doing alright. You’re doing alright. You just stay on the phone with me.

C: I see the police. 

Op: You see the police?

C: Yes.

Op: Okay. You let me know when they get in there with you…then you can talk to them, alright?

C: Okay.

Op: I just don’t want you to be alone right now.

C: Okay.

Op: Okay. Just stay on the phone with me.

C: Okay.

(Background noises)

Op: Are they in there with you? They coming in?

C: Yes. Thank you.

Op: Okay, hon. Alright. Bye, bye.

C: Bye, bye.