Slain Durham Priest’s Public Memorial Services Cancelled

The public visitation and memorial services for the Durham volunteer priest who was found murdered last weekend have been cancelled.

WRAL reports the family of 71-year-old Kent Terry Hinkson has decided to pay their respects privately after the story has received such a high amount of attention. The services were planned for Friday and Saturday at All Saints Church on Farrington Road in Durham. Hinkson led religious activities there for people who couldn’t attend Sunday services.

Hinkson reportedly left his home to run errands on August 4. His family reported to authorities that he never returned.

A search effort ensued, and Hinkson’s red Hyundai Sonata was discovered Wednesday in a parking lot of Mews Apartments on Willamsburg Road, nearly five miles from his home.

Matthew John Reed

Matthew John Reed

The suspect, 36-year-old Matthew John Reed, reportedly led authorities to Hinkson’s body somewhere near Pleasant Green Road and U.S. 70 the Sunday following his disappearance. He is being held in the Orange County Jail for the murder. The cause of death has not yet been released.

http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/slain-durham-priests-public-memorial-services-cancelled/

Indictments For 2 Charged In UNC Professor’s Death

HILLSBOROUGH – Two men now face indictments in the death of a professor at UNC.

An Orange County grand jury on Monday indicted 23-year-old Derick Davis II of Durham and 27-year-old Troy Arrington Jr. of Chapel Hill on charges of first-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon.

The men were arrested after the attack last month. Police said 59-year-old Feng Liu died a day after suffering serious head wounds.

Davis and Arrington have been held at the Orange County jail, and it wasn’t immediately clear if they had attorneys. District Attorney Jim Woodall hasn’t said if the state will seek the death penalty.

Liu was a research professor in UNC’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy. A memorial for him was held Saturday on campus.

http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/indictments-2-charged-unc-professors-death/

Hundreds Gather for Vigil Honoring Slain UNC Professor Feng Liu

Hundreds of mourners gathered Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil, just a few blocks from where UNC Professor Feng Liu was murdered a week earlier.

Feng Liu

Feng Liu

“We should not be here today,” said Tony Yao, president of the Chinese-American Friendship Association of North Carolina. “Something…something is wrong with our community, something that has prevented Professor Feng Liu from enjoying another beautiful day of the life, family, and work.”

Dedicated scientist, humble man of achievement, generous friend, devoted husband, proud father, excited grandfather-to-be, wise counsel, drinking buddy, golf partner, and contributor to a better world.

As Tony Yao, president of the Chinese-American Friendship Association of North Carolina paid tribute to his fallen friend, UNC Professor of Molecular Pharmaceutics Feng Liu at the beginning of Wednesday night’s candlelight vigil, he included many of those things in his description.

Other friends, colleagues and admirers who spoke at the event on Pittsboro Street did too, And many, like Yao, expressed the same outrage at the circumstances of Liu’s death.

Corner of Ransom St and West University Dr (courtesy of Google Maps)

Corner of Ransom St and West University Dr (courtesy of Google Maps)

It was exactly one week since the 59-year-old professor was found lying on the ground with blood pouring from his head on West University Drive near the Ransom Street intersection. He was mugged, and his attackers hit him on the head with a rock. Liu died from his injuries.

The two accused assailants, Troy Arrington. Jr. and Derick Davis II, are being held on charges of first-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon.

At Wednesday’s vigil, UNC Chancellor Carol Folt spoke near a flowing fountain that did its best to comfort the audience. Behind her and other speakers at the entrance of the FedEx Global Communication Center, a table had been set up with flowers, and a framed picture of Liu smiling – he was a great smiler, one friend recalled.

Two nights earlier, Folt met with Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt in her office to discuss public safety concerns, as the UNC community mourned a shocking loss.

As she spoke to those assembled to honor Liu, Folt reaffirmed the university’s commitment to keeping faculty and students safe.

“As we go forward today in his honor, I know we want to concentrate about him, and his legacy, and what he has meant for our community, but also with his work, for so many people throughout the world” said Folt. “But I also do want to tell you that there is nothing, nothing more important than the safety of our campus and our community. And as we go forward, that too will be part of everything we do in the coming days.”

Liu came to the Eshelman School of Pharmacy in 2005. His research interest was in developing methods to deliver drugs to cancer cells.

His colleague Xio Xio, who knew Liu from his days at the University of Pittsburgh, remembered him as an excellent teacher and role model for students. He said Liu was also a great scientist whose achievements were felt around the world.

One of those achievements is the hydrodynamic method, a breakthrough in gene therapy.

“It’s used by hundreds of labs over the world,” said Xio. “I think many labs at UNC also use that technology. The paper was cited more then 1,200 times. That kind of achievement can rarely be matched by scientists in the world. But Feng was always a humble and modest man. He never bragged about it.”

Xio mentioned the Chinese tradition of paying tribute to the dead on the seventh day of their passing. Liu’s family couldn’t be present, he added, because they were in Asheville, where half of Liu’s ashes will be spread somewhere in the mountains. The other half will be placed in Liu’s hometown in China, near the graves of his parents.

Another reason Liu’s family is in Asheville is that Liu’s daughter had an appointment for a pre-natal checkup there. She’s due in less than two months, and as Xio reminded the somber crowd, the closest Liu ever came to seeing his granddaughter was in an ultrasound image.

Another colleague, Jun Li, spoke with emotion about his slain friend. He said he now avoids walking past Liu’s office, for fear that he’ll break down in tears.

Li talked about the trauma suffered by the entire UNC community. he said that the site of Liu’s murder is a street where many of his co-workers at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy also take regular walks around lunchtime.

“My wife and my little daughter also walk that way,” said Li. “it’s not a bad place. But it just happens to Dr. Liu.”

After about 45 minutes of tributes, it was time for mourners to walk to that once-unremarkable place, after candles had been lit, and Chinese liquor had been poured in front of the table in Liu’s honor, and all of the guests had bowed three times toward his picture.

The eight-minute walk was quiet, and orderly, and mourners were accompanied by a few Chapel Hill police on bicycles.

Darkness fell as people arrived at Ransom Street and West University Drive, and many heavy sighs and gasps were audible as flowers were left at the murder site on West University.

They were the sounds of disbelief at the senseless crime committed here, on a quiet, familiar street, at the tree-lined edge of someone’s front yard, in the middle of a sunny day.

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/hundreds-gather-vigil-honoring-slain-unc-professor-feng-liu/

911 Call: Professor Was Breathing Before First Responders Arrived

The 911 call in response to the beating and subsequent death of a UNC professor Wednesday afternoon reveals he was alive when first responders arrived on the scene.

The following is a redacted recording of the 911 call. Listener discretion is advised.

“There is an individual laying on the street at Ransom and West University.”

“At where?” the dispatcher asked.

“Ransom and West University. Right near the intersection here,” the caller said.

Fifty-nine-year-old Feng Liu of Durham was a professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. He was known by his colleagues to take walks around the southern part of campus during his lunch breaks to reenergize.

Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said a Town employee was one of the first to arrive to find that the professor had been attacked. He added that even members of the police department were shocked by the random crime that claimed the young professor’s life.

When the caller arrived to find Liu laying in the street, already there were signs of concern.

“And he’s just laying in the street?” the dispatcher asked.

“He’s kind of laying to the side, breathing hard. And he’s breathing and there were two gentlemen here when I pulled around the corner and there are couple of other people hanging out here now,” the caller said.

The dispatcher asked the caller to wait, then the caller went on to say, “According to a lady here who is pre-med, there is blood coming out of his nose and his mouth – and his ears.”

“There’s blood coming out of his nose and his ears?” the dispatcher asked.

“His ears, yes ma’am.”

The dispatcher asked his age,

“He looks like he’s in his mid-30s,” the caller said.

The dispatcher then asked if the man was awake.

“No, he’s unconscious. He’s not responding,” the caller said.

“He’s unconscious?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Is he breathing?”

“He is breathing, yes ma’am.”

“Is his breathing completely normal?”

“It sounds hard but he is breathing.”

First responders arrived and attended to Liu. He was transported to UNC Hospitals just a few blocks away. According to the News and Observer, prosecutors said Liu was hit in the head with a rock. He died the next morning as a result of serious head injuries.

The call also revealed that a number of people responded to the area in a reasonable amount of time, leading to ask the question of why the assailants chose that location and that time to take those actions.

Chapel Hill Police received enough information from someone who said they witnessed suspicious activity in the area to apprehend the suspects and arrest them Wednesday evening.

Derick Davis II, 23, of Scots Pine Crossing in Durham and Troy Arrington Jr., 27, of Johnson Street in Chapel Hill were arrested and charged with first degree murder, felony robbery, and assault. They’re being held at the Orange County jail without bond.

http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/911-call-professor-responsive-first-responders-arrived/

UNC Professor Dies After Robbery And Assault Near Campus

Originally posted July 24, 2014, 10:31 a.m.

A research professor at the Eshelmen School of Pharmacy died at UNC Hospitals on Thursday morning from wounds suffered during a beating and robbery Wednesday afternoon. Now, the two suspects in custody for the assault face murder charges.

Feng Liu

Feng Liu

Chapel Hill police found 59-year old Feng Liu, of Greyfield Boulevard in Durham, suffering from serious head wounds on West University Drive shortly after 1 p.m. on Wednesday. According to the News and Observer, prosecutors said Liu was hit in the head with a rock.

“Officers got there and determined he had been assaulted and robbed. He was taken to UNC ER for treatment,” says Lieutenant Josh Mecimore. “Later that evening, we were able to identify some suspects and charge them.”

Police arrested Derick Davis II, 23, of Scots Pine Crossing in Durham and Troy Arrington Jr., 27, of Johnson Street in Chapel Hill.  Both men face charges of murder, felony robbery, and assault.

Derick Davis II

Derick Davis II

Troy Arrington Jr.

Troy Arrington Jr.

Davis is being held under a $100,000 secured bond and Arrington Jr. is being held under a $75,000 secured bond.

***Update from Chapel Hill Police July 25, 2014, 8:46 a.m.: Derick Davis II and Troy Arrington Jr. have been charged with First Degree Murder in the death of Feng Liu. Davis and Arrington are currently being held in the Orange County Jail without bond.

 ***Update from the News & Observer: Arrington was reported to be in between drug rehab programs. He scheduled to meet with his pretrial-release manager the same day of the attack.

Liu studied pharmaceutics science at Shenyang Pharmaceutical University in China and received his PhD at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy. His research focused on gene and drug delivery.

After the news of the death of the UNC professor, many people on social media showed their concern that the incident occurred in the middle of the day in a residential area.

 

 

fb_post

fb_post 2

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 11.51.43 AM

WCHL’s Mary Yount went to Franklin Street yesterday afternoon to gather reactions.

Here’s what you had to say:

A Statement from Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt:

The death of Professor Feng Liu as a result of a serious assault and robbery Wednesday afternoon is a horrible tragedy and a loss for the Chapel Hill community.

 

A safe and secure environment is fundamental to our quality of life in Chapel Hill and, as a community, we must not tolerate such senseless violence. The Town and the University continue to partner on those matters impacting quality of life in Chapel Hill, public safety being chief among them.

 

Two suspects are currently in custody in the Orange County Jail in connection with this horrible incident. I have the utmost confidence in the investigation that is being conducted by the Chapel Hill Police Department, which will provide information to the public as it becomes available.

 

I offer my heartfelt condolences to Professor Liu’s family, friends, members of the University community, and all who knew him.

A Statement from UNC Chancellor Carol Folt:

Dear Carolina community:

 

I am writing in regard to the tragic loss of a member of the Carolina community. As many of you know, Dr. Feng Liu, a research professor in the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, passed away this morning in what the Chapel Hill Police Department is calling a robbery/homicide. This is a tremendous loss to Carolina, and I am heartbroken over this horrible tragedy. My thoughts and prayers are with Dr. Liu’s family, colleagues and friends during this difficult time.

 

Dr. Liu spent nearly 10 years at Carolina and was dedicated to the success of his students. He conducted important research on gene and drug delivery in the School of Pharmacy. Most importantly, he was a loving husband and father who will be greatly missed.

 

The Chapel Hill Police Department has arrested two individuals in connection with this tragedy. We will update the University’s Alert Carolina website, http://alertcarolina.unc.edu, as new information is available.

 

The University is cooperating fully with Chapel Hill police in this investigation. I want to assure you that safety and security of students, faculty, staff and visitors on Carolina’s campus and in the surrounding community is my highest priority.

 

During this time of loss, the Carolina Community has resources to help us in our grief. We are making counseling resources available. We encourage students to call Counseling and Psychological Services (919-966-3658), and faculty and staff to contact our Employee Assistance Program (877-314-5841), if you would like support.

 

I encourage all members of the Carolina Community to process their grief and support one another.

 

Sincerely,

 

Carol L. Folt

http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/2-face-charges-robbery-victim-dies-following-assault/

CHPD Chief: ‘Robbery/Murder A Random Act’

Chapel Hill citizens are expressing through social media their concern for safety after a random act of attempted robbery led to the death of a UNC professor Wednesday afternoon.

Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue says he wants to assure all citizens that the police officers are constantly monitoring the community for suspicious activity to help keep the town as safe as possible.

“We’re proud of the nature of our community’s safety,” Chief Blue says. “It’s something that we all work very hard on as community members. In fact, we all have a responsibility for it, and I’m proud of the way our community rises to that challenge. I will say that this one is particularly troubling because it’s so random—in the middle of the day. All of our sense of safety as community members takes a hit when something so random and unexplained happens, as was the case here. Immediately our reaction as a police department is to increase presence in the neighborhoods and knock on doors and reassure folks. But, we also recognize that grieving and dealing with this kind of shocking circumstance takes some time. We’re scratching our heads a little bit just like everyone else in the community is about just why and how this could happen.”

WCHL’s Ran Northam spoke with Chief Blue

The incident took place just a couple blocks west of the UNC School of Public Health and split of Pittsboro and South Columbia streets. Fifty-nine-year-old Feng Liu, of Greyfield Boulevard in Durham and a professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy was known to take a walk through the community during his lunch break, according to multiple media outlets. Colleagues said it was a way he reenergized himself daily.

Chief Blue says he can’t release any additional information because the investigation is ongoing, however, he says it was a town employee that first arrived to find Liu in need of medical attention. According to the News and Observer, prosecutors said Liu was hit in the head with a rock. He died at UNC Hospitals.

Public Information Lieutenant Josh Mecimore says the list of items stolen from Liu has not yet been released.

UNC Police Chief Jeff McCracken was out of town Friday and unable to be reached.

In a statement released through Alert Carolina, Chief McCracken emphasized how important it is to always be prepared.

“People should have a plan in mind about how to respond in an emergency because it’s very difficult to plan for an emergency when you’re in the middle of one,” he said. “It’s important for people to know beforehand where the exits are, where the fire escapes are, the safest place in the building to be if a tornado is spotted, that kind of thing. Planning decreases panic and increases the chance for a better outcome in an emergency situation.”

http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/ch-police-chief-robberymurder-random-act/

Hedgepeth Murder Information To Be Released

Updated 6:25 a.m., July 3, 2014

Investigative documents and 911 calls regarding the murder investigation of UNC student Faith Hedgepeth were unsealed Wednesday, according to the Daily Tar Heel.

Durham County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning ordered the redacted search warrants and un-redacted 911 calls to be released after The Daily Tar Heel, Capital Broadcasting Company, Inc. and the News and Observer Publishing Company filed the motion to halt the sealing orders on March 3.

A 911 call tells how Hedgepeth’s roommate, Karena Rosario, found her face down in her bedroom. She told the 911 operator that she believed someone was in their apartment and even Rosario’s room.

The search warrants released were heavily redacted, but they showed that the Facebook accounts and laptops of Rosario were search, the apartment was search on September 7 and 10, and that police searched a 2012 Jeep on September 11.

Nineteen-year-old, Hedgepeth was found dead by her friends in her off-campus apartment on September 7, 2012.

The cause of death remains sealed, although Hedgepeth’s parents have said they believe she was beaten to death.

Durham County District Attorney Leon Stanback first asked the court to seal the documents three days after Hedgepath’s death, to keep from “compromising the investigation.” Since then, the documents have been sealed every 60 days, until the motion to halt the orders was filed.

According to the state’s previous motion to keep the documents sealed, there were search warrants for a 1977 Honda Accord, a unit in Hedgepeth’s apartment complex, and her own apartment, WNCN reported. Investigators also searched a laptop and a Facebook account.

Stanback told WCHL News in September of 2013 that he would seek to keep the documents sealed for as long as the courts allow.

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.

On January 8 of this year, the CHPD released details of the investigation, including DNA of a male suspect found at the scene.

Authorities continue to seek any information that could help in the investigation. Anyone with information should call the Chapel Hill Police Department at 919-614-6363 or Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515.

A reward up to $39,000 is available to anyone with information that can help solve the case.

http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/hedgepeth-murder-information-released/

Murder Investigation Documents Still Sealed?

The investigative documents into the murder of UNC sophomore Faith Hedgepeth remain sealed, pending a ruling on a motion filed by the local media to unseal the documents.

It’s been more than 20 months since the crime took place, and on March 3, The Daily Tar Heel, Capital Broadcasting Company, Inc. and the News and Observer Publishing Company filed the motion to halt the sealing orders.

Durham County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning is reviewing the motion. While he does, the documents remained sealed despite the last 60-day order’s expiration on May 18.

WCHL left multiple messages with Durham’s Assistant District Attorney Charlene Coggins-Franks and District Attorney Leon Stanbeck in the last three weeks to inquire the latest about the case, but they didn’t return the calls.

The 19-year-old was found dead by her friends in her off-campus apartment on September 7, 2012. Authorities have said they don’t believe the crime was a random act, though they haven’t disclosed how she was killed or information about a possible suspect or suspects.

Stanback first asked the court to seal the documents three days after Hedgepath’s death, to keep from “compromising the investigation.”

According to the state’s motion to keep the documents sealed, there were search warrants for a 1977 Honda Accord, a unit in Hedgepeth’s apartment complex, and her own apartment, WNCN reported. Investigators also searched a laptop and a Facebook account.

Stanback told WCHL News in September of 2013 that he would seek to keep the documents sealed for as long as the courts allow.

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.

On January 8 of this year, the CHPD released details of the investigation, including DNA of a male suspect found at the scene.

Chapel Hill Police continue to express that this is not a cold case and that it is continuing to follow leads.

Authorities continue to seek any information that could help in the investigation. Anyone with information should call the Chapel Hill Police Department at 919-614-6363 or Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515.

A reward up to $39,000 is available to anyone with information that can help solve the case.

http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/murder-investigation-documents-still-sealed/

Second Suspect Arrested In May 30 Shooting

A second suspect in the fatal shooting in south-west Chapel Hill on May 30 was arrested Wednesday.

The Chapel Hill Police Department reports that Brandon Shamar Townsend, 21, of Varina Drive in Durham was apprehended in Durham by the US Marshall’s Joint Fugitive Task Force. He has been charged with First Degree Murder and Attempted First Degree Murder.

Townsend is being held without bond at the Orange County Jail.

The incident was initially reported as a break-in at 102 S. Christopher Road. It resulted in the death of Lew Hahn Hood, 33, of Chapel Hill, who was pronounced dead at the scene. Police say Hood had multiple gunshot wounds.

Bartholomew Romidas Scott, 35, of Durham was arrested and charged with first degree murder soon after the incident when he was taken to police headquarters for questioning.

Chapel Hill Police Public Information Lieutenant Josh Mecimore told WCHL that neither Hood nor Scott were residents of the home where the shooting took place.

South Christopher Road runs parallel to 15-501, Fordham Boulevard, and the home is next to the onramp from NC-54.

Click here for more on this story.

http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/second-suspect-arrested-may-30-shooting/

Friday’s Homicide Investigation Continues

Story originally posted 2:02 p.m., June 2, 2014

Questions remain in Friday’s homicide in Southeast Chapel Hill as the investigation rolls on.

Chapel Hill Police Public Information Lt. Josh Mecimore confirmed Monday afternoon that no new information was available. When the first reports came in of the shooting, a few details were reported that are still unclear. The incident was initially reported as a break-in, but Lt. Mecimore said neither the victim nor the suspect were residents of the home where it took place at 102 S. Christopher Road. He said the dispatcher might have first used that description when there was little information.

South Christopher Road runs parallel to 15-501, Fordham Boulevard, and the home is next to the onramp from NC-54.

Lew Hahn Hood, 33, of Chapel Hill was pronounced dead at the scene on Friday afternoon, after police officers responded to a report of a shooting. Police say Hood had multiple gunshot wounds.

Bartholomew Romidas Scott, 35, of Durham was arrested and charged with first degree murder. He’s being held without bond in Orange County Jail, and had his first appearance in court Monday.

The Chapel Hill News reports that Scott’s attorney, Matt Suczynski, told the court Monday that it was Scott who called 911 to summon police to the scene. While the investigation is ongoing, Orange and Chatham District Attorney Jim Woodall said police believe, “at this time”, Scott is responsible for killing Hood.

Woodall also said police are trying to figure out if anyone else was involved.

Alert Carolina reported Friday that there were two black male suspects. UNC Department of Public Safety spokesperson, Randy Young said that was the early report released by Chapel Hill Police, that two black males were involved. Lt. Mecimore said Chapel Hill Police were not looking for a second suspect.

A June 12 probable cause hearing is now scheduled for Scott to determine whether police have enough evidence to hold him on the murder charge.

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/fridays-homicide-investigation-continues/