Durham News: Opinion

Gaspo: Who killed Faith Hedgepeth?

By Tom Gasparoli

Faith Hedgepeth
Faith Hedgepeth

Durham’s Sara Martinez Diaz has returned home. She’s 15. She’d been gone for six-plus weeks before we heard about the disappearance.

Why was that? Seems odd, but it is fantastic that she’s OK.

When I saw Sara’s photo and the brief articles about her being missing, the first person I thought of: Durham’s Tierra Hall.

Tierra was 17. The pictures of the two teensseemed similar. There was at least one big difference, though. Tierra was only “gone” one night back in March.

And when her photo went public, it was because she’d been found dead. Stabbed to death.

Found a quarter-mile from her school, Jordan High.

Kelton Breshon Fox was soon arrested. Reportedly, a former boyfriend.

Faith Hedgepeth was 19 when her heart was halted.

Faith was found beaten to death Sept. 7, 2012, in an apartment she shared with a roommate, another female UNC student.

The apartment was about 3.7 miles by road from Trotter Ridge Road, off University, where Tierra Hall was found. Through the woods and back yards, I’d say about a mile and a half.

We are now less than a month away from three years since the day Faith, with a wonderful future at her fingertips, was removed from this world.

We’ve heard virtually nothing since about a year ago, when the Chapel Hill police released more information.

Two years after the murder, we saw Faith’s autopsy that partly explained how she died.

We also learned of and saw, for the first time, a note left on the bed in the room where Faith was found.

I still can’t determine or understand why the image of that note wasn’t released sooner. I mean, it’s handwriting. Recognizable, quite possibly.

Maybe the note is the “real thing,” scribbled in haste, hatred and even hubris by the killer or killers.

More likely, the message was manufactured both in words and style to throw the investigators off.

Might it have been more helpful to see if anyone recognized the handwriting right after Faith’s death instead of waiting 24 months, after interest had declined, students graduated, people close to the case moved on?

There’s a lot we don’t know about what investigators have done, or haven’t, with this note.

We do know there was DNA at the scene, on Faith’s body, and no one who’s been tested has matched it.

I’ve never been at all certain there was just one person involved in this murder – before, during or after – and the note plays into my thinking.

The message makes no sense as written, and it looks as if it could have been penned on that bag in piecemeal fashion, instead of all at one time.

And why write it at all? If you don’t want to get caught.

The writing is pretty tidy, too, for someone who’s just committed an atrocious and apparently uncontrolled murder, with the body splayed right there and blood everywhere.

At least one letter, the only “P” on the note, looks to my untrained eye as if it came from a female hand.

In my research, I’ve also been told the word, “jealous,” seen in the note, is not a word men typically use publicly or privately.

They usually just show it.

So, as we rapidly approach the third September 7 since Faith’s body was found, what might the police release or discuss this time?

I’d very much like to see transcripts of some key interviews in the case. A few in particular could be most illuminating. The then-roommate’s, for one. Why shouldn’t we see her interviews, exactly? She said what she said.

I’ve talked with Faith’s father, Roland Hedgepeth, who said an investigator recently told him that authorities were still following up leads.

I say the silence around all this is deafening.

I hope, before or on Sept. 7, the public can see even more information that may jog a memory, touch an emotional chord, cause someone to speak up.

And we should not overlook there remains a killer or killers out there somewhere. Anywhere. Here?

Do we pass them on the plaza by the fountain at Southpoint on the way to a Saturday night movie?

They could kill again.

You can reach Tom Gasparoli at tgaspo@gmail.com or 919-219-0042.