During the three-plus years since UNC student Faith Hedgepeth was killed, Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue has spoken rarely. I say rarely when one considers that the awful, alarming case is not solved, and the killer or killers are certainly capable of murdering again.
Over time, I’ve read his published comments: “We expect you to come in.” “We’ve got a good case.” “This is not a cold case.”
No point in quibbling about whether or not a case is classified as cold. That’s semantics. Rather, I strongly question why authorities paid by taxpayers have failed to keep the case in the public eye urgently and consistently.
Just one key tip, and Faith’s murder might be solved.
I’ve covered many murder cases, and one story I did years ago (in which police provided me with new, provocative insights) led to a tip, a search, an arrest, and ultimately, a conviction. Justice.
The victim, a woman found dead in a cornfield, was abducted and slain by a co-worker.
Since September 7, 2012, I have been unimpressed with the lack of community engagement by Chief Blue and Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols. (Faith died in a part of Chapel Hill within Durham County’s borders.)
Police investigators, as well as the State Bureau of Investigation and the District Attorney’s office, seem to be at wit’s end. Or, are they?
I decided to send a list of 20 questions to Blue and Echols.
Many of my inquiries were easily answerable, with no obvious risk to an investigation. Here is part of the polite but short reply I received from Blue, after he said he spoke with Echols.
“This is still a very active case. Therefore, we have nothing new to release at this time. As I said last September, we are still seeking any information that your readers may have about Faith’s murder. Thank you for your inquiry.”
Perplexing. A writer seeks assistance in publicizing a case. The response says nothing meaningful but adds that authorities still seek information from readers.
Why play your cards so close to the vest? Whom does that help?
I’d asked Blue and Echols to outline five investigative steps taken since Dec. 1, 2015. I asked how many tips they had received overall and in the months during this fourth year since Faith’s death.
I asked if any handwriting analysis and comparisons had been done on the bizarre note left on a fast-food bag at the scene (released two years after the killing). Whether any fast-food restaurant surveillance tapes had been reviewed.
I asked what kind of help the FBI had provided.
And more: “Are there questions you have formally asked Faith’s roommate that have not received adequate answers ... or no answers? Is there anyone who was at the club the night of her murder that you have sought to but not been able to identify and talk to?”
You get the drift.
This sort of apparent disinclination in helping push the investigation forward is troubling and unproductive.
I got in touch with Faith’s father, Roland Hedgepeth, and filled him in.
Hedgepeth later wrote to me wondering, as I do, whether there are no new leads to follow in Faith’s case.
And this: “ e are regularly told that Faith’s murder investigation is not a cold case, but how are we to truly know? You would hope that if CHPD truly wants ‘justice for Faith,’ they would use every agency and private individual(s) available to seek that end.”
I also asked Faith’s father how he was coping after so long.
“I don’t cry as often as I used to, not because I don’t miss Faith but because I have peace about where her Spirit resides. Seems like it was just yesterday that we got the news of her death but it’s been 40 months. But, who’s counting?”
40 months. 20 questions. Zero answers.
You can reach Tom Gasparoli at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-1219-0042.