Relatives hope SBI can help in murder investigation of UNC student

Faith Hedgepeth's gravestone. (Tamara Gibbs)
October 2, 2013 2:56:41 PM PDT
Relatives of a murdered UNC student are telling ABC11 that they asked the State Bureau of Investigation to step in more than a year ago.

This week, Chapel Hill police announced they'll start working with the SBI to solve the brutal murder of Faith Hedgepeth. Some relatives hope it's not too little too late.

"For such a beautiful girl to die so brutally," said Hedgepeth's cousin, Gwen Wilkins. "Someone is involved."

The last time Wilkins saw Faith it was three weeks before her brutal murder. Months passed with no arrest. That's when she called the Chapel Hill police chief.

"I just felt like it was a little procrastination on the Chapel Hill police side," said Wilkins. "I think there were egos involved where they did not want to call in the SBI because they wanted to handle it and now a year later, they're finally handling the request that I made ten months ago."

Until now, the SBI could not intervene without an official request from Chapel Hill investigators.

Police have said the killer left DNA at the scene. Exactly who it belongs to is still a mystery. More than a year later, have investigators lost critical time?

"That's a hard question to answer," said Durham District Attorney Leon Stanback. "We're doing the best we can. I know the Chapel Hill Police Department is doing the best they can."

ABC11 asked the Chapel Hill Police Department what the SBI's involvement will mean for the case. A spokesperson says the agency assisted early on, but because of the nature of the investigation, the department can't comment on specific details.

"It is my understanding they're assisting, but I am hoping they take the lead," said Wilkins.

Wilkins worries the additional help may be too little too late. She remains hopeful fresh eyes on the case will mean new leads, and a long-awaited arrest.

"I will rest better knowing that they are investigating," said Wilkins. "They are using their resources to bring this to a close for our family.

There is a $39,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case.

Anyone with information about Faith's death, is asked to call the Chapel Hill Police Department tip line at (919) 614-6363 or Crimestoppers at (919) 942-7515.

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