Nationwide, 40% of murders never get solved. Faith Hedgepeth’s case might stay in that category, a local expert says.
Because there were no witnesses, no apparent direct link between potential suspects and the victim and no match in the database to DNA evidence police collected from the crime scene, the brutal murder of the UNC sophomore will be tough to crack, says Margaret Zahn, a criminology professor at N.C. State and former president of the American Society of Criminology. “You’re looking at anybody who could have been in the vicinity at the time,” she says.
Hedgepeth was found murdered in her off-campus apartment in September. Police are still hoping for a break.
“I don’t think this is particularly unusual, given there were no witnesses and no evidence to link her to an estranged boyfriend,” Zahn says. “If she didn’t come home with a semi-known person that she picked up at the bar, this one could take a long time to solve.”
Chapel Hill Police announced last month that they had DNA evidence from a male suspect, as well as a character profile. The hope was that the DNA evidence would lead to a suspect.
“Whoever this person is is not in a database,” Zahn says. “He doesn’t have a criminal record at least that the FBI is aware of. DNA is good when you’re ultimately going to get around to convicting someone, but that’s very different than finding somebody.”
Chapel Hill Police Sgt. Joshua Mecimore agrees that DNA evidence won’t do much without a match.
“We’re still asking people to call [(919) 614-6363] with information that might help lead us in the direction of a particular person,” Mecimore says.
If Hedgepeth’s murderer continues to evade the police, her death will be the first unsolved murder in Chapel Hill since 2000.
BACKSTORY The FBI's homicide clearance rate in 2010 for cities the size of Chapel Hill (between 50,000 and 99,999 people) is 67.8%. Chapel Hill's clearance rate is 100% since 2001 with the exception of Hedgepeth. TW