Published: Sep 15, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Sep 14, 2012 05:08 PM
When the report first came in, it was impossible not to think back on those terrible days four years ago.
Once again, a UNC student was found slain. Once again, a bright young woman who radiated light and life was violently taken away, the promise of her bright future suddenly extinguished. Once again, a vast circle of family and friends was left grief-stricken and stunned, and the wider community left shocked and searching for answers.
Police reported the death on the afternoon of Sept. 7 of Faith Danielle Hedgepeth, a junior majoring in biology. Friends found her body in her Chapel Hill apartment. Police have released few details, but they are investigating her death as a homicide.
Like all of you, our thoughts and prayers go out to her family, her friends and her tribe, the Haliwa-Saponi. For Hedgepeth’s family, the tribe will be a valuable source of support through these darkest of these times.
The close-knit tribe of about 4,000 in Warren and Halifax counties was stunned by the death of one of its brightest and most promising young members, a happy young woman whose leadership ability and academic achievement won her a full scholarship to UNC, an honor the tribe proudly celebrated.
Hedgepeth’s UNC community too was devastated by her death. And many of us no doubt can’t help but recall the same jarring sense of loss, the same yearning to understand, that we felt just four years ago when Eve Carson was murdered on a dark Chapel Hill street.
That tragedy marked this campus and this community in permanent ways. So will this one. We will never forget the brilliant young woman we lost to a shocking act of violence four years ago. Now, sadly, we will always remember Hedgepeth, for the most terrible of reasons, as well.
Although at this point we know very little about Hedgepeth’s apparent murder – police haven’t even released the cause of death – it appears that the two cases differ in several particulars.
Police say they believe her death was not the result of a random act. Carson’s was; her murderers chose her simply because she was there and alone. Hedgepeth’s body was discovered in her own home, while Carson was taken from hers and eventually killed on a quiet residential street, apparently also chosen at random.
And, at the time of this writing, the most importance difference, of course, is that Carson’s murderers were caught and convicted, while whoever killed Hedgepeth is still unknown and at large.
Police have set up a tip line (919-614-6363), and rewards totalling $29,000 have been established for information leading to an arrest. We fervently hope those responsible for her death will be brought to justice.
The differences apart, what the two cases share is more fundamental and far more important: they leave us with a gaping void, a vacant space in our world where these two bright young people used to be. We carry on, we learn to live with it, but that absence, that gap, never closes.
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