UNC sophomore’s killer brought to justice after nine years


Faith Hedgepeth left, and her killer Miguel Enrique Salguero-Olivares photo courtesy of the New York Post

   For nine years, the murder of University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill sophomore, Faith Hedgepeth has remained unsolved. However, recent developments in DNA testing have helped investigators pin down who they believe killed the young student back in 2012.  

   Raised in Holister, NC and part of the Haliwa-Saponi Native American tribe, Faith Hedgepeth was known to her friends and family as a very loving and intelligent person. Her grades in high school were outstanding and she earned the Gates Millennium Scholarship awarded byUNC, a program geared towards promoting diversity and removing financial barriers for academically gifted students. Faith was enthusiastic about her education at UNC and was planning to become a pediatrician. 

   On the day of her death,  September 7th, 2012, Faith attended an event for Alpha Pi Omega, one of the sorority options at Chapel Hill, at 6 p.m. She then went to one of the libraries on campus with her roommate, Karena Rosario. At around 7:30, the pair returned home to their temporarily shared apartment on Old Chapel Hill Road. Later, at 12:40, Karena and Faith were seen on surveillance cameras entering a local nightclub known as “The Thrill”. According to Karena, the two left a few minutes after two in the morning because she wasn’t feeling well. Karena left the apartment later that morning at around 4:25 a.m. with a male friend, leaving the door unlocked. Hours later, Karena came back to the apartment to discover Faith in her bed, surrounded by blood, and immediately called the police.

   The initial investigation lasted for two years until 2014 when the Durham County court officials made the documents accessible to her family. However, no new information was presented to them. The autopsy revealed that she had died from blunt force trauma to the head, this was old news to her family. Police officials knew the murder weapon to be an empty bottle of Bacardi rum as it was recovered from the murder site with tissue fragments and DNA on it. Along with the rum bottle, investigators found a fast-food bag with the words “IM NOT STUPID. B****” handwritten across it. 

   From the evidence they had, a DNA profile of who investigators believed to be the killer was put together. They believed that Hedgepeth likely knew her assailant based on the amount of connections she seemed to have on campus. But after questioning about 2,000 people and testing over 100, they still couldn’t seem to find a match. At least not until September 16th of this year, when they arrested 28 year old Miguel Enrique Salguero-Olivares. 

   Two years before Hedgepeth’s murder, Salguero-Olivares moved from Guatemala to the United States. and spoke little to no English. Before eventually moving to Durham, he resided in Chapel Hill, only a few minutes away from the apartment complex where Hedgepeth was murdered. Salguero-Olivares was not originally a person of interest, but was linked to the case through DNA and forensic evidence. 

   “When I cried, it was tears of joy; tears of relief. Knowing that someone had been arrested in her case,” said Connie Hedgepeth, the mother of Faith, when speaking to the press about Salguero-Olivares’ arrest. She thanked God and everyone involved in solving Faith’s case for bringing her killer to justice after so long. Salguero-Olivares is facing first-degree murder charges but will not be eligible for the death penalty.