Nine years and nine days after the murder of UNC student Faith Hedgepeth, the Chapel Hill local department on Thursday arrested a 28-year-old suspect in her death. Miguel Enrique Salguero-Olivares of Durham has been charged with first-degree murder and is being held within the Durham County jail without bail. Police released no details about the arrest, suspect, or what relationship he had, if any, to Hedgepeth. “Patience is going to be asked of you,” Chapel Hill captain Chris Blue said at a press conference. “This story will take time to completely unfold.”
“This investigation isn’t complete. Our work isn’t done,” added Assistant Chief Celisa Lehew. Salguero-Olivares wasn’t a suspect or person of interest at the start of the investigation, Lehew said. She didn’t say when he became a suspect. “We will still work this case until every lead is extinguished, and any parties that have a task in or knowledge of this tragedy are delivered to justice,” she said. The press conference was attended by town, police, and UNC officials, the State Bureau of Investigations, N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein, Durham County DA Satana Deberry, and Roland and Connie Hedgepeth, Faith’s parents.
“When I got the news this morning, I didn’t do anything but cry, and thank God,” said Connie Hedgepeth. “When I cried, it had been tears of joy, tears of relief, knowing that somebody had been arrested in her case.” “It’s been an extended nine years,” Roland Hedgepeth said. “I want to thank God for today and age”> today that he allowed me to remain alive to ascertain this day,” he added. “Of course, I do know the case isn’t solved. this is often not the end; just the start, but I would like to thank God for that.” Hedgepeth was a 19-year-old UNC sophomore when she was found beaten to death in 2012 in her friend’s off-campus apartment near the Durham-Chapel Hill border.
The native of Hollister — a little community on North Carolina’s Warren-Halifax County border — was a member of the Haleiwa-Saponi tribal community. Deberry said her murder pointed to the “devastating reality of violence against Indigenous women,” who she said in some communities face murder rates 10 times above the national average. “Too often these cases and these women don’t get the eye they deserve,” she said. “Faith’s case never went cold.” Hedgepeth entered UNC on a scholarship and was also working her way through college, with the dream of becoming a pediatrician and moving back home to serve her community.
Kevin Guskiewicz, the university’s chancellor, spoke to the “overwhelming sadness and heartbreak” of Hedgepeth’s murder. “Carolina may be a different place due to Faith,” he said. “Faith was and continues to be a Tar Heel, and that we will always remember her,” Stein said DNA evidence proved invaluable in locating a suspect, with 229 samples analyzed to rule out suspects. A match was made Wednesday to a DNA profile derived from the first crime scene, he said. “I am so profoundly pitying your loss,” Stein told Connie and Roland Hedgepeth at the press conference. “Sometimes justice is swift; other times it takes longer.”
In a tweet Thursday afternoon, Gov. Roy Cooper thanked the state and city agencies that “worked relentlessly” to unravel the case. Thursday night, Roland Hedgepeth told The News & Observer while driving home Thursday night to Hickory that he hopes Salguero-Olivares’ arrest will cause more evidence within the investigation. He may attend the primary appearance on Friday, Hedgepeth said, if only to ascertain the face of the person who has been charged with his daughter’s death. He said police haven’t told him a few possible motives. “I actually need to be there for Faith, you know,” he said. “It won’t accomplish anything, but I actually need my presence there.”
Salguero-Olivares was arrested and charged with driving while impaired in Wake County last month, consistent with court records. His blood-alcohol level was .20, two-and-a-half times the legal limit, documents said. His driver’s license was temporarily revoked following the charge. Salguero-Olivares, who had a Chapel Hill address listed, was also charged with no operator’s license, no insurance, an open container alcohol violation, and a registration violation, consistent with court records. He did not appear in court on Sept. 3 and an impressive order for his arrest was issued on Sept. 7, court documents showed. Police know that Hedgepeth attended a recruitment event for Alpha Pi Omega around 6 p.m. Sept. 6, 2012 — the day before she was killed — then visited Davis Library on the UNC campus together with her friend Karena Rosario.
They were back at Rosario’s apartment by 7:30 p.m. at the Hawthorne at The View apartment complex (now Preserve at the Park) on Old Chapel Hill Road. Hedgepeth was staying with Rosario until she could enter her own apartment later that month, The News & Observer reported. After midnight, the ladies left for the joys, a former nightclub on Rosemary Street in Chapel Hill. Police have video surveillance footage that shows them at the club at 12:40 a.m. They left at 2:06 a.m., police said, and returned to the apartment, where Hedgepeth visited sleep. Rosario told police that she left the apartment again around 4:25 a.m. with a male friend. She left the door unlocked, police have said.