Search warrants unsealed by the Durham County District Attorney’s office Friday morning reveal multiple people of interest in the murder investigation of Faith Hedgepeth nearly two years ago. Chapel Hill Police have yet to say if any have been ruled out as suspects.
The most notable connection with the victim is Eriq Takoy Jones, who lived in the same apartment complex as Hedgepeth, a few buildings away from where she was found murdered. Jones apparently had a previous relationship with Hedgepeth’s roommate, Karena Lynn Rosario.
According to a warrant, Jones told Rosario earlier that summer that he hated Hedgepeth and would kill her if Rosario didn’t get back together with him. Police were told that Jones resented Hedgepeth because he considered her a barrier to his relationship with Rosario.
Police say Rosario placed a restraining order against Jones two months before Hedgepeth was murdered, after he allegedly kicked two doors off their frame in Rosario’s apartment.
Jones gave investigators permission to search his cell phone. They found a text message Jones sent to a friend the day before the murder asking the friend to forgive him for what he was about to do. Jones also sent a tweet to someone else asking for forgiveness. Police said the cover photo on Jones’ Facebook page was changed to include, “Dear Lord. Forgive me for all of my sins and the sins I may commit today. Protect me from the girls who don’t deserve me and the ones who wish me dead today.”
Jacob Beatley of 103 West Longview Street in Chapel Hill was also questioned six months after the murder took place. A warrant shows that a cell tower search conducted early in the investigation connected an incident report to Beatley’s phone number.
Investigators said when they contacted Beatley they found that he lived with the person who Rosario was with during the time of the murder. Police said he also went to the nightclub The Thrill that night, but couldn’t recall when he left. The warrants say Beatley was asked to submit a DNA sample, but he did not do so voluntarily.
Another person of interest included Reginald Leonard Jackson, II who was living in Greensboro in November 2012 when investigators attempted to contact him.
A Chapel Hill Police officer said he attempted to get in touch with him by phone multiple times before traveling to his last known address in Greensboro. The CHPD officer said he caught up with Jackson with the assistance of local police. He said Jackson was in his car and pulling out of the parking lot of his apartment complex. The warrant says Jackson told the officers he “knew of (Hedgepeth)” but that he doesn’t talk to police like that.
In Thursday’s release, Police Chief Chris Blue said investigators collected hundreds of DNA samples, but did not name any suspects. Chapel Hill Police did report that at least one person refused to have a DNA sample submitted.
Investigators continue to ask that if you have any information regarding the case to call 919-614-6363. You can also call Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/persons-interest-listed-hedgepeth-murder-investigation-documents/
Some information in this story may be considered graphic
***Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue Addresses the Media***
• At approximately 11:00am on September 7, 2012, officers with the Chapel Hill Police Department received a call to the Hawthorne at the View apartment complex located at 5639 Old Chapel Hill Road in reference to a possible dead body located in apartment 1502.
• When officers arrived, they were greeted by the primary tenant of apartment 1502, Karena Rosario, who advised that she had found the victim, Faith Hedgepeth, inside and that she was unresponsive.
• Officers located Faith Hedgepeth dead in a bedroom inside. Faith’s body was found on the floor leaning against the bed with her shirt pulled up; she had no clothes on from the waist down.
• There was pooled blood near her body and blood spatter on the wall and bedroom closet door. A note written on a take-out fast-food bag was also located on the bed.
• An autopsy determined that Faith’s death was caused by blunt force trauma to the head resulting from a beating.
• A sexual assault kit was collected, which revealed the presence of semen. It was determined that the DNA profile generated from this semen matched other DNA evidence which was also recovered from the crime scene. Investigators believe that this DNA belongs to the person responsible for Faith Hedgepeth’s murder.
• Investigators determined that, prior to her death, Faith Hedgepeth and Karena Rosario visited Davis Library on the UNC campus at approximately 7:30 pm and arrived home shortly after midnight. At a little before 1AM on Sept 7th, they arrived at the Wallace Parking Deck on East Rosemary Street and walked to The Thrill bar. Hedgepeth and Rosario left the bar together at 2:38 am and drove home in Faith’s car, a white Nissan Altima. Investigators believe the pair returned home and that Rosario left the apartment at 4:27 am. Rosario returned home with a friend at approx. 11 am that morning, at which time she discovered Hedgepeth’s body.
The Chapel Hill Police Department says it has surveillance from The Thrill.
• Investigators of the Chapel Hill Police Department and agents of the NC SBI, have collected hundreds of items of evidence; interviewed friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, classmates, etc. and consulted with experts in various scientific fields of study.
• Investigators have executed numerous search warrants and court orders for computers, cellular phones, social media accounts, financial records, etc. Investigators have asked persons of interest to provide oral DNA swabs so that their DNA could be compared to the DNA profile of the offender. Hundreds of DNA samples have been collected and analyzed during the course of this investigation. None of the samples have been found to match the DNA profile of the offender.
• Investigators have excellent evidence in this case and we are making a public appeal for any information that will help us tie that evidence to Faith’s killer.
• This is not a cold case. It has been and remains an active investigation.
• Reward money has been pledged from a number of sources and there is over $40,000 in reward money available in this case.
If anyone has information that they wish to provide, please contact investigators at 919-614-6363. If you call this number, you will speak directly to one of the Investigators who are assigned to this case and are familiar with it. This number will be staffed 24 hours a day. You can also submit a time online at www.crimestoppers-chcunc.org.http://chapelboro.com/uncategorized/latest-faith-hedgepeth-murder-investigation-details/
Some information in this story may be considered graphic
Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue released new information Thursday that he says he hopes will help lead to the capture of the suspected killer in the murder of a UNC sophomore.
“Since September 7, 2012, a killer has been on the loose and has not been held accountable for Faith’s death,” Chief Blue said. “We believe that someone knows who did this and will be compelled to come forward.”
“If Faith’s killer is out there hearing this message, you should know that we will catch you,” Chief Blue said.
Sunday marks two years since a roommate of 19-year-old Faith Danielle Hedgepeth found her dead in their off-campus apartment.
However, Chief Blue says this has not, at any time, become a cold case.
“We’ve conducted an extensive investigation, and we have excellent evidence,” Chief Blue says. “This is a very strong case. What we need to do is connect that case to Faith’s killer.”
In the attempts of making that connection, Chapel Hill Police released never-before-told details about the investigation, which has—at times during the case—gone outside of North Carolina.
Part of that release includes the confirmation of what Hedgepeth’s parents earlier told the media, that they suspected she was beaten to death. She was found badly beaten and partially undressed, according to the release.
On January 8 of this year, Chapel Hill Police announced the DNA of a male suspect was found at the scene.
“Investigators have asked persons of interest to provide oral DNA swabs so that their DNA can be compared to the DNA collected at the scene,” Chief Blue says. “Hundreds of DNA samples have been collected and analyzed at this point. None of them have been found to match the DNA profile of Faith’s killer.”
Police say DNA samples were submitted in various forms, including oral swabs. At least one person has declined to submit a DNA sample.
Investigators also released a photo of a hand-written note that was found at the scene, which was believed to have been written by the killer.
The murder took place at the Hawthorne at the View apartment complex, which is located in the Durham County portion of Chapel Hill. The Durham District Attorney’s Office will prosecute a suspect, should any arrests be made, though the Chapel Hill Police Department is the investigating agency.
If anyone has information that they wish to provide, please contact investigators at 919-614-6363. If you call this number, you will speak directly to one of the Investigators who are assigned to this case and are familiar with it. This number will be staffed 24 hours a day. You can also submit online at www.crimestoppers-chcunc.org. You can reach Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515.
UNC spokesperson Karen Moon released the following statement regarding the release of information:
“Chapel Hill Police contacted the University in connection with their investigation into Faith Hedgepeth’s death. Because this is a Chapel Hill Police Department investigation, we are not in a position to comment on it. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Hedgepeth family as they deal with such a tragic loss. We remain hopeful that the case will be solved as quickly as possible.”
Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt told WCHL he did not want to comment on the information release at this time in order to allow the police department to continue its diligent work without interruption.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/chpd-releases-new-hedgepeth-murder-investigation-details/
Tuesday marks the official first anniversary of the University’s 11th chancellor and first female chancellor. Her entrance was brought on by the departure of Holden Thorp, who served in that seat for five years before his resignation. Thorp is now the Provost at Washington University in St. Louis.
Chancellor Folt took the job knowing that Carolina was in the middle of the biggest academic scandal in the school’s history and on the heels of the NCAA handing out punishment to the football team, including probation until 2015, a one-year postseason ban, and the loss of 15 scholarships over three seasons. Those results stemmed from finding that impermissible benefits were given to members of the UNC football team.
UNC announced Monday that the NCAA has reopened its 2011 investigation based on the possibility of newly available information.
Former North Carolina Governor Jim Martin was hired to conduct a review of the African and Afro-American Studies Department. That report, which was released on December 19, 2012, stated that the issue was isolated to academics solely and was not an athletic problem.
Now, the University is awaiting the results of yet another review. Former assistant attorney general for national security and partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft Kenneth Wainstein was hired by the University in January to conduct an external review of any and all academic irregularities. On June 20 at a UNC Board of Governors meeting, Wainstein made it a point to say he has not been giving the University updates into his investigation in order to protect the integrity of the review. The University has in turn promised Wainstein not to conduct any other investigations until he has concluded the review.
Wainstein says he hopes to have the investigation completed before the start of the Fall 2014 semester.
Chancellor Folt’s first year has been highlighted by new hires. She recently announced the completion of her executive team with the hire of ¬Matthew Fajack as the University’s new chief financial officer and vice chancellor for finance and administration. Her first hire was that of Jim Dean to the Provost position. He was previously the dean of the Kenan Flagler Business School.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/chancellor-folt-one-year-office/
Story originally posted 10:38 a.m., June 20, 2014
Attorney Kenneth Wainstein told the UNC Board of Governors Friday that not only will he not share findings of his investigation into UNC’s academic irregularities, but that he doesn’t yet have any findings. He says the investigation is ongoing.
“Our investigation is not complete, and until our investigation is complete, we will not have final findings,” Wainstein said. “Those findings, as President Ross said, will be put together into a report, which will be made public at the end of our investigation.”
***Listen to the Complete Update***
That was the first time Wainstein publicly spoke about his investigation.
The 19-year veteran attorney was retained by the University in January after the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and Orange and Chatham County district attorney Jim Woodall concluded their investigations into UNC’s African and Afro-American (AFAM) Studies Department and its chair Julius Nyang’oro.
That investigation led to the indictment of Nyang’oro for receiving $12,000 to teach a lecture course filled with football players that he instead treated as an independent study requiring only a paper in summer 2011. Woodall said no further charges will be made against Nyang’oro or any other person involved.
Nyang’oro has had his first appearance in court, but his trial is still pending. The University said he has returned the $12,000.
Wainstein said he and his associates are using every resource possible to aid in their findings, which is something he said previous investigations into this topic weren’t able to include.
“We’ve interviewed over 80 people so far—a number of them we’ve interviewed more than one occasion,” Wainstein said. “We’ve collected and searched over 1.5 million emails and electronic documents. We’re also analyzing thousands of student records, including transcripts, going back to the early ‘90s and even into the ‘80s.”
On June 6, former UNC basketball standout Rashad McCants went on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” and said that tutors wrote papers for him, he remained eligible only because of phony “paper classes” – and that his coaches, including Roy Williams, were fully aware of what was going on.
McCants comments marked the first time someone associated with the UNC men’s basketball program said it, too, was part of the academic scandal.
Wainstein told reporters Friday that McCants is not among the 80 people who have been interviewed, despite the attempt.
“We’ve intended to speak to him,” Wainstein said. “We actually invited him to come in for an interview back in May. At that time, he declined our invitation. He said that at that time he did not want to speak to us. Then he had his interview and spoke publicly. So, we’re hopeful that that is sort of a changed circumstance that might want him to want to speak to us, so we’ve now sent a new letter reiterating our invitation to speak to him. So, we’re hopeful that that will happen.”
Nyang’oro and a long-time department administrator, Deborah Crowder, have been mostly unavailable for questions leading up to this investigation. However, Wainstein says he has received full cooperation from them.
“In terms of their willingness to sit down with us, they’ve made themselves completely available to us; they’ve given us as much time as we’ve asked for and met with us on every occasion we’ve asked them to meet,” Wainstein said.
Wainstein emphasized that this investigation is completely separate from the University, and that the decision was made to keep it that way in order to protect the integrity of the investigation.
He added that his job is only to investigate the academic irregularities and present a report, but not to suggest a course of action to take based on those findings.
“What they’ll do with that, that’s for them to decide,” Wainstein said. “I heard, this morning, President Ross talking about how he’s looking forward to getting the report and getting the findings and then taking any actions that might be pointed up by any of those findings.”
System President Tom Ross said he couldn’t speak to what kind of actions would be taken, because he doesn’t have the report yet. However, he said that he’s said from the beginning that UNC is ready to take any actions necessary.
“When he’s finished, we’ll take the appropriate steps, and we’ll take whatever additional steps are necessary to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again, and then we’ll move on,” President Ross said.
President Ross told the Board, before Wainstein gave his update Friday, that no limitations were placed on Wainstein’s investigation and that he was instructed to go where the information leads him.
“Chancellor Folt and I directed and gave Mr. Wainstein the full authority to follow the facts wherever they lead and to attempt to address definitively how and why academic irregularities occurred at UNC-Chapel Hill,” President Ross said. “
Wainstein told the Board he chooses to use the term “paper classes” when discussing the focus of the investigation. The media has chosen multiple additional terms, including fake classes and no-show classes. He listed many questions he said he and his associates are using as base questions in the investigation, including a major focus on which classes in the AFAM department were independent studies, what was learned in those classes, if there was any inappropriate assistance in the classes, which personnel on campus knew about the irregularities, and many more.
Wainstein is a partner with the Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft law firm’s Washington branch. He had associates Colleen Kukowski and Joseph Jay in attendance with him, who he said are assisting him in the investigation.
No timeframe was given for the conclusion of the investigation, but Wainstein said he hopes to have the investigation wrapped up before the start of the fall semester.
UNC system spokesperson Joni Worthington said the University has not yet received any bills from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/wainstein-dont-findings-yet/
CHAPEL HILL – National college basketball writer for USA Today, Eric Prisbell, played a key role in uncovering information about Haydn “Fats” Thomas and his relationship with PJ Hairston.
Prisbell comments on who he thinks Thomas is and why he has a relationship with the basketball players like PJ Hairston.
“Who he is, is a guy who operates in the shadows, in anonymity really and he builds relationships with these high profile, some of them high profile in the area, for the purpose of partying” said Prisbell.
The NCAA is currently investigating to see if Thomas was a booster representative of UNC Athletics. The NCAA can already suspend Hairston for several games due to his recent arrest for possession of marijuana, but if the NCAA declares Thomas a booster, Prisbell says UNC basketball next year could be under further investigation.
“Well I think if “Fats” Thomas is declared a booster, I think that’s a game changer and that’s problematic for both Hairston and the North Carolina basketball program, but I think that’s a real stretch at this point. I don’t think we’re going to see that” Prisbell said.
UNC did not contact Thomas after Hairston was arrested and have yet to investigate their involvement together. Instead, Prisbell says the University is looking to see if sports agent, Rodney Blackstock, had any involvement in PJ Hairston receiving benefits.
“The NCAA and North Carolina are not just looking at “Fats” Thomas’ relationship with PJ but they’re looking at Rodney Blackstock’s relationship with PJ” Prisbell claims.
UNC and the NCAA continue to investigate Hairston’s involvement with Thomas and Blackstock. Prisbell says he has yet to find a connection involving benefits between Blackstock and Hairston.
“He has known PJ and his family for a long, long time because they’ve both been from Greensboro, but I have yet to find any evidence of an improper benefit between Blackstock and PJ” said Prisbell.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/eric-prisbell-comments-on-hairston-and-thomas/
CHAPEL HILL – While UNC tends to the early stages of its newest investigation, a ruling was released late last week in another case that alleges sexual harassment.
According to the News and Observer, Administrative Judge Melissa Lassiter ruled Friday that the University failed to protect a housekeeper from sexual harassment and retaliation.
In early 2011, numerous employees in the housekeeping department complained of poor treatment, with incidents ranging from sexual harassment to open threats. After the Washington-based PRM Consulting Firm conducted hundreds of interview of the staff, it found that the department’s practices “created a culture with employee morale issues, lack of trust, and overall frustration.” Housekeeping director Bill Burston stepped down in September amid the controversy; in December 2011, former assistant director Tonya Sell also resigned amidst allegations of verbally abusing her employees.
One housekeeper at the forefront of the investigation is Maria Isabel Prudencio-Arias; she claimed to be a victim of sexual harassment and says she was punished after she brought that to the administrations attention. Prudencio-Arias still works at UNC.
Judge Lassiter awarded Prudencio-Arias attorney fees and said the University should meet her medical needs with a job that suits her. Her lawyer told the N&O that she will be seeking $160,000 in damages for lost personal leave, depression and emotional stress.
The ruling now goes in front of the State Personnel Commission, which will make a final ruling.http://chapelboro.com/news/judge-rules-university-did-not-protect-housekeepers/
Dear Dr. Harmon: