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 tgaspo@gmail.com 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.


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