Miguel Enrique Salguero-Olivares is a 28-year-old Durham man who has been charged in the 2012 murder of University of North Carolina student Faith Hedgepeth in Chapel Hill. Salguero-Olivares was charged with first-degree murder on September 16, 2021. The 19-year-old UNC student was killed in her off-campus apartment on September 7, 2012. Her roommate found her body and called 911 to report there was “blood everywhere,” according to investigators.
Hedgepeth was beaten and raped, according to autopsy results released in 2014. A handwritten note reading “I’m not stupid. B****. Jealous,” was found scrawled on a fast-food bag on Hedgepeth’s bed, according to documents, video and photos released by investigators in hopes of developing new leads in the case in 2014.
The case drew media attention, including from true crime shows and documentaries and podcasts and was widely discussed on social media. Hedgepeth’s roommate, Karena Rosario, and Rosario’s ex-boyfriend, Eriq Takoy Jones, drew scrutiny over the years. Salguero-Olivares had not been publicly discussed as a possible suspect or person of interest. A possible voicemail left after a pocket dial also drew attention.
Hedgepeth grew up in Hollister, North Carolina, in Warren County, and was a member of the Haliwa-Saponi Native American tribe. Hedgepeth earned a Gates Millennium Scholarship to attended UNC and was hoping to be a pediatrician or teacher.
Chapel Hill Assistant Chief of Police Celisa Lehew, who has led the investigation for six years, said in a statement, “There hasn’t been a day that’s gone by that I haven’t thought about Faith or how to get this case to the conclusion she and her family deserve; there are many people within our department and our agency partners who feel the same way. While Faith’s family has been waiting for this day for nine years and nine days, I am sure it is going to renew painful emotions. Our thoughts are with all of Faith’s family and friends, and we will continue to support you in this difficult time.”
Here’s what you need to know about Miguel Enrique Salguero-Olivares and the murder of UNC student Faith Hedgepeth:
1. Salguero-Olivares Was Identified After His DNA Matched Evidence From the Crime Scene, Police Say
Authorities in North Carolina announced the arrest of Miguel Salguero-Olivares during a press conference on September 16, 2021, more than nine years after Faith Hedgepeth was killed in her apartment. The investigation was led by the Chapel Hill Police Department and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Durham County District Attorney and the state attorney general’s office, the state crime lab and other agencies, including the FBI, officials said. Parabon Labs also assisted. Salguero-Olivares was identified through DNA, authorities said.
“Our agency has been committed to bringing justice to Faith and her family since the day of her murder, ” said Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said in a statement. “I am proud of all the people—inside our department and in the many partner agencies that assisted us—whose hard work made this result possible. While today’s arrest will not bring Faith back, we are not yet done getting answers for Faith’s family. Today’s announcement marks the next phase of this investigation and we will, again, commit to preserving the integrity of this case with everything we’ve got.”
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said at a press conference, “Faith was a bright, friendly, beautiful young woman whose life was full of promise and tragically and brutally cut short. While we understand nothing can fill the holes in your hearts, we hope that knowing that a suspect has been arrested and is off the street reassures you that we are one step closer to justice for Faith.”
Stein added, “sometimes justice is swift, other times it takes longer. Today, after nine years and a week, an arrest has been made in the murder of Faith Hedgepeth. Today’s important announcement proves the power of partnership, persistence and the potency of DNA. … Police detectives and SBI agents conducted thousands of interviews and spent countless hours in this case, never giving up and always fighting for Faith and her family. … Yesterday, with a sample provided by law enforcement of the suspect, the state crime lab generated a match to a DNA profile created, or derived, from the original crime scene. As a result, an arrest nearly a decade in the making has been made.”
Hedgepeth’s mother, Connie Hedgepeth, said at the press conference, “When I got the news this morning, I didn’t do anything but cry and thank God and praise God. When I cried, it was tears of joy, tears of relief that someone had been arrested.”
Faith’s father, Roland Hedgepeth, said, “It’s been a long nine years and nine days. I want to thank God for allowing me to stay alive to see this day.”
2. Salguero-Olivares Currently Lives in Durham, Previously Lived in Chapel Hill, Worked as a Painter & Moved to the United States From Guatemala in 2010, Neighbors Say & Records Show
Salguero-Olivares came to the U.S. from Guatemala when he was a teen, in 2010, about two years before Hedgepeth was killed, the Raleigh News & Observer reports. His most recent address was in Durham, where he worked as a painter, according to records. His neighbor told the newspaper Salguero-Olivares spoke little to no English when he came to the United States.
Before moving to Durham, Salguero-Olivares lived in an apartment complex on Ephesus Church Road in Chapel Hill, the News & Observer reports. Few other details about Salguero-Olivares have been revealed. According to CBS 17, Salguero-Olivares said in court documents he has worked at a pizzeria.
Salguero-Olivares’ mother told WRAL, “My son is not a murderer. I believe in my son. I believe it. He said he don’t know the girl.” She said he never attended UNC-Chapel Hill and didn’t have many friends at the university. The news station wrote, “A family friend of Salguero-Olivares told WRAL that the act doesn’t fit the person she knows, pointing to principles passed down from his parents and grandparents.”
3. Salguero-Olivares Was Convicted on a DWI Charge in 2014, Has Pending Traffic Offenses & Had an Active Warrant for Failure to Appear in Court When He Was Arrested, Records Show
Salguero-Olivares was convicted of driving while intoxicated in 2014 in Orange County, North Carolina, court records show. He was most recently arrested in Raleigh, North Carolina, in August 2021 on charges of driving while intoxicated and driving without a license or insurance, according to Spectrum Local News.
The news station wrote, “Jails in North Carolina routinely take DNA samples from people arrested and feed those into a database to see if they match any pending cases.”
Salguero-Olivares failed to appear in court on September 3, 2021, in the Raleigh case, the News & Observer reports. An arrest warrant was issued by a Wake County judge on September 7 as a result, according to the newspaper.
4. Police & Prosecutors Declined to Release Additional Details About the Accusations Against Salguero-Olivares, Including Whether They Know of a Motive or How He Ended Up in Hedgepeth’s Apartment
Police and prosecutors have declined to release many details about the investigation, including whether they know if Salguero-Olivares knew Hedgepeth. They have also not said if they know if there is a motive in the case. Salguero-Olivares would have been 19 when Hedgepeth was killed.
Hunter Glass, who worked on the case as a private investigator, told ABC 11 that Salguero-Olivares’ name had come up as having been at a party at Hedgepeth’s apartment complex, but he said he “didn’t stick out.” Police have not confirmed any details about a party and whether Salguero-Olivares was there. Glass told the news station, “I would want to know why and who else knew. I don’t believe that only one person knows this case. And I don’t believe that there was only two and one can’t tell us. So, I do believe that there were either other witnesses, I believe, or not witnesses, at least heard something, knew something but kept it close to their chest because they didn’t want to talk about it, or they were afraid they would be implicated in it.”
Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said at the press conference, “Patience will again be asked of you as this story will take some time to completely unfold. Today’s announcement marks the next phase of this investigation and we will again commit to preserving the integrity of this case with everything we’ve got.”
5. Salguero-Olivares Made His First Appearance in Court & Was Held Without Bond
Salguero-Olivares made his first court appearance on September 17, 2021, and was ordered held without bond on the first-degree murder charge. He is being represented by a public defender. His attorney could not immediately be reached by Heavy for comment on the case. Salguero-Olivares received the assistance of a translator during the court appearance. His next hearing was set for October 7, 2021.
The case is being prosecuted by Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry. At the press conference, Deberry said, “I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to lose Faith in such a sudden and tragic way and then to spend the next nine years, almost to the day, not knowing what happened. As a mother of young adult women myself, it breaks my heart. Today I join the Chapel Hill PD and all the agencies present her to say that we are committed to getting you the answers and accountability you deserve.
She added, “I think one reason Faith’s passing hit this community so hard is that she was such a bright and promising young woman. Her potential and dreams of becoming a pediatrician and serving her community were cut short. And the only way we got to know her was through this tragic incident. Her case also brings home the devasting reality of violence against indigenous women. In some communities, they face murder rates 10 times higher than the national average. To often, these cases and these women do not get the attention they deserve. … Faith’s case never went cold. The Chapel Hill Police Department has worked every angle and used every tool at their disposal to get us where we are today. … We have a long court process ahead.”
Stein said, “This case underscores the importance of DNA. That’s why we are working hard to test the. thousands of untested sexual assault kits in local law enforcement custody across North Carolina. I appreciate the legislature for passing the Survivor Act in 2019 and for putting in its current proposed budget an additional $9 million to outsource the remaining kits for testing. Given the dramatic increase in DNA to the state crime lab, the lab needs an additional 12 scientists to do the kind of important work that led to the arrest here today. I urge the legislature to fund these positions to keep the public safe.”
The attorney general added, “With partnership, persistence and the power of DNA we are sending powerful messages. To the victims of crimes and their families, that we will fight to deliver justice for you. To the public, that we will do everything in our power to keep you safe. And to the murderers and rapists, no matter how long ago you committed your crime, we will never stop coming for you.”