A nationally syndicated crime show aired a voicemail Tuesday it says may have recorded the final moments of UNC student Faith Hedgepeth’s life.
But Chapel Hill’s police chief says investigators have had the recording since the beginning of the case and think it records Hedgepeth and others earlier that night in a downtown club.
Hedgepeth, 19, was found beaten to death in her off-campus apartment Sept. 7, 2012. Chapel Hill police have made no arrests in the case.
On Tuesday, the program “Crime Watch Daily” aired an episode “Murder on Voicemail” in which forensic audio expert Arlo West says he deciphered the garbled, pocket-dialed voicemail.
West says his analysis reveals the voices of Hedgepeth, at least two men and another woman, and the mention of two names he says might help investigators.
At one point, according to the program, a male voice reportedly says, “I think she’s dying” while West claims another male replies, “do it anyhow.”
He says Hedgepeth is heard saying, “Ow! Help me!”
In an interview Tuesday evening, program host Matt Doran said the show obtained the voice mail from one of Hedgepeth’s friends – he would not name the person. West, who specializes in deciphering such accidental calls, volunteered to analyze it and was not paid, Doran said.
Doran said he does not know if police had the latest equipment West used to analyze it.
“A lot of the technology that has been used to clean this audio up, (West) says, has been developed in the three years since Faith’s murder,” Doran said.
Like Doran, Police Chief Chris Blue said investigators obtained the audio from one of Hedgepeth’s friends.
“We have done some analysis and actually will do some more analysis on it,” he said. “That has not been completed.”
But Blue said police do think the call came from the club, not the apartment where Hedgepeth was killed. Police have said Hedgepeth was at the Thrill nightclub on Rosemary Street the night she was killed.
In 2014, police released a photo of a fast-food bag with the message – “I’M NOT STUPID BITCH” “JEALOUS”– found at the Hawthorne at the View apartment where Hedgepeth was killed.
Her body was leaning against the bed. Her head was bludgeoned so severely that medical examiners concluded blunt force trauma killed her.
The white bag with the note written in capital letters was on the bed.
Police spokesman Lt. Josh Mecimore said police released the note because they thought it could help.
“In any kind of homicide there are thousands of pieces of evidence that are collected,” Mecimore said. “The vast majority are not related to the case. I don’t think there was great need for us to release the audio because the note was the important thing.”
Blue agreed. The audio was garbled and “difficult to decipher,” he said. “We thought that the note was probably more useful.”
‘My daughter’s voice’
On Tuesday night, Roland Hedgepeth, Faith’s father, said he thinks the call came from the apartment.
“I’ve listened to it probably a couple hundred times,” he said.
He first heard the voicemail about a year after the killing when the owner of the phone that received the message let him make a copy of it.
“It is pretty garbled up, but I know my daughter’s voice,” he said. “From day one I heard my daughter screaming in the background, and I knew something was going on.”
Blue said between two and four investigators continue working the case at any one time.
“It is a very active case,” he said. “I am very confident in our investigators because I know how hard our investigators are working.”
But Blue acknowledged the family’s frustration, adding, “When you’ve had a loss like Roland’s and Faith’s family has had, time stands still.”
Watch the episode
“Crime Watch Daily” airs at 2 p.m. on WLFL. You can watch the Faith Hedgepeth episode at http://bit.ly/1U6AMN2