Photos, documentary honor murdered UNC student's graduation

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Photos, documentary honor Hedgepeth
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Faith Hedgepeth was murdered inside her Chapel Hill apartment in September 2012.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Springtime photographs at the Old Well are a campus tradition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill even for a student that's noticeably absent.

A poignant photograph of murdered UNC student Faith Hedgepeth adorned with a Carolina blue cap and sash is circulating on social media.

"I wanted to do this for Faith," said professional photographer and UNC '05 alum Jennifer Hollar about the image she snapped a few weeks ago.

Hedgepeth was murdered inside her Chapel Hill apartment in September 2012. The 19-year-old was supposed to graduate with the Class of 2014.

"She deserved to graduate with her classmates, and she didn't get that opportunity," Hollar added admitting it was one of her most challenging photo shoots, triggering heartfelt emotion.

Hollar was hired by one of Hedgepeth's friend who graduated Mother's Day weekend. They wanted to pose with what is now believed to be the last known photograph of the slain student.

Hedgepeth's absence at the UNC graduation ceremony was especially difficult for her friend and classmate Carmen Wood.

"Everything on this campus reminds me of Faith," said Wood, reflecting on her last text exchange with Hedgepeth the day before her murder.

Wood is producing a video documentary in honor of Hedgepeth called "Walk by Faith."

She's in the final phases of editing thousands of hours of interviews with family and friends. Wood says her project is not only a tribute to Faith and her family, but a strong message to her killer.

"Come forth and realize you hurt more than just an individual," Wood said, emphasizing the impact of Hedgepeth's murder. "You hurt her school community, her tribe community. You hurt a lot of people."

The State Bureau of Investigation is working with the Chapel Hill Police Department. Investigators have said Hedgepeth's murder was not a random act.

Along with a profile of the killer, investigators claim to have the murder suspect's DNA. However, a year- and-a-half later, there's no known match or an arrest in connection with the case.

"It's very hard knowing her family doesn't have closure," said Hollar.

Click here to see the photos.

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