CHAPEL HILL — As UNC-Chapel Hill students gathered publicly to mourn the death of Faith Hedgepeth, investigators questioned people privately in a search for clues to the homicide.
Hedgepeth, a biology major from Hollister, was found dead at 11 a.m. Friday inside an apartment at the View complex that straddles Orange and Durham counties. Police acknowledged Monday they think Hedgepeth had been killed in a crime that was not random, but they were tight-lipped about the cause of death and whether they had suspects.
On a college campus where students typically are preparing for the life ahead, Hedgepeths death and the many unanswered questions about it left her peers to grapple with a sudden finality.
Hundreds of students, many weeping, gathered Monday evening at the Pit the brick courtyard where students congregate to socialize, listen to speeches, or debate and held unlit candles as Hedgepeth's a Capella group, Unheard Voices, performed an Native American unity song and another a Capella group, the UNC Harmonix, performed songs dedicated to the UNC junior.
None of us are ever prepared for such a sudden and unexpected loss, said UNC-CH Chancellor Holden Thorp. We are stunned and grief-stricken as individuals and as a community.
The Student Union walkway a work of art with bricks depicting turtles and other symbols that was a gift to the University from a member of Hedgepeth's Haliwa-Saponi tribe was illuminated in her memory, Thorp told the crowd.
I urge all of you to be there for each other in these difficult days and weeks ahead, he said, reminding students that counselors are available for those who need them.
When we grieve, we grieve together, said student body president Will Leimenstoll. I don't know what to say in situations like this.
The crowd lit their candles as members of Hedgepeth's family and her Haliwa-Saponi tribe took the podium to recall her life and share their grief.
Our hearts are heavy and we can't understand of any of it, said Consuela Richardson, Hedgepeth's cousin. We will get through, and justice will be served.
Richardson recalled how inspired she was by Hedgepeth, saying the young woman would live on as an inspiration and role model to those who knew her. Hedgepeth had worked hard to win a scholarship to UNC system schools through the Gates Millennium Scholars program, a source of pride to her entire tribe.
The first time she flew in a plane, her cousin said, Hedgepeth commented that she wanted to play in the clouds.
Now she's got all the clouds she needs, Richardson said.
Police have established a tip-line at 919-614-6363 for anyone with information related to the investigation. Callers who wish to remain anonymous will be allowed to do so, according to officials.
People may also contact Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515. Calls to Crime Stoppers are confidential and anonymous, and the caller may be eligible for a cash reward up to $2,000 for information that leads to arrest.