Faith Hedgepeth was a 19-year-old student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when she was found brutally murdered in her off-campus apartment in 2012, just weeks before she would have turned 20. Ahead of the Investigation Discovery special on her, Who Killed the Co-Ed? An ID Murder Mystery, here’s what you need to know about her murder and why her killer has never been identified.
Hedgepeth Went Out With Her Roommate The Night She Was Killed
According to an NBC News profile of Hedgepeth’s case, on the night of her murder, the 19-year-old college student went to a rush event for Alpha Pi Omega, then studied in the library with her roommate, Karena Rosario.
After studying, the two girls went out to a nightclub called The Thrill in downtown Chapel Hill. Rosario later told police she started not feeling well and they went home. Security cameras showed them leaving the club at 2:30 a.m. and were home by 3 a.m., according to a neighbor’s testimony of hearing them in the apartment they shared.
Rosario left the apartment around 4:30 a.m., telling police later that Hedgepeth was in bed asleep. The next morning, Rosario returned home and found Hedgepeth dead, partially nude, and having sustained severe head trauma.
Later, investigators told Dateline that they believed the murder weapon was an empty Barcardi rum bottle. Hedgepeth had also been sexually assaulted; police found DNA and semen at the scene that they believe came from the killer.
Evidence Suggested That She Knew Her Killer
According to the ID special, evidence at the scene suggested that Hedgepeth knew her killer. The murderer left behind the murder weapon, a cryptic note, and DNA, but the case remains unsolved because investigators have never had a DNA sample to compare with the evidence found at the scene.
In the NBC News profile, investigators revealed a computer-generated image of what they think the killer looks like based on the phenotype of his DNA profile, which they procured through Parabon Nanolabs. Genetic genealogist CeCe Moore is one of the founders of the Parabon Nanolabs work used in crime-solving. She actually recently debuted her own true crime show on ABC called The Genetic Detective, which features cases that Moore solved using DNA and genealogy research.
In addition to DNA, the police also found a hand-written note scrawled on a fast-food bag that read, “IM NOT STUPID. BITCH. JEALOUS.”
Eight years after the murder, roughly 2000 people have been questioned and over 100 people have had their DNA tested in regards to the case, but authorities have never found a match that they can definitively say is the killer.
“We continue to use all tools that are available to us,” Assistant Chapel Hill Police Chief Celisa Lehew told Dateline. “We can’t point to any one thing that will lead to an arrest. We will not give up until we can give Faith’s family the closure they deserve … We are constantly looking at the case file and following up on leads and using new technology and evidence procedures. It will be solved.”
In 2018, Investigation Discovery examined this case for Breaking Homicide: The Final Theory. During that special, a handwriting analyst told the network that they thought the hand-written note was written by a female. And Hedgepeth’s father, Roland, told ID, “Everything in my mind starts with Karena … this case is not as complicated as it’s made to seem.”
According to ID’s Still a Mystery, Hedgepeth had had some issues with Rosario’s ex-boyfriend, Eric Takoy Jones, because Hedgepeth was the one who took Rosario to get an order of protection against Jones. And the day before Hedgepeth’s murder, Jones posted a message to Facebook that read, “Dear Lord. Forgive me for all of my sins and the sins I may commit today. Protect me from the girls who dont deserve me and the ones who wish me dead today.”
There was also a voicemail Faith left on her friend Euna’s phone via a pocket dial that a forensic audio expert enhanced in 2016 that he believes happened during Faith’s murder. But the timestamp is wrong — the timestamp puts the voicemail as happening while the girls were at the nightclub, which the police have used to discount the voicemail, despite the forensic audio expert’s research into the fact that Faith’s cellphone had known issues with incorrectly timestamping voicemails.
Who Killed the Co-Ed? An ID Murder Mystery airs Thursday, May 28 at 9 p.m. ET/PT and is being rebroadcast Friday, May 29 at midnight ET/PT on Investigation Discovery.