Police Arrest Suspect In 2012 Murder Of UNC Student Faith Hedgepeth

“Although her time on earth was short, Faith had an enormous impact on many,” her family says.

September 20, 2021
By: Aaron Rasmussen

Authorities in North Carolina have used DNA to identify a suspect in the nearly decade-old unsolved murder of a college student.

On Sept. 16, Chapel Hill police announced the arrest of Miguel Enrique Olivares, 28, of Durham for the death of 19-year-old Faith Hedgepeth. He faces a first-degree murder charge and is being held without bail.

On Sept. 7, 2012, Hedgepeth, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill junior, went to bed in the early morning hours after spending time in a local nightclub with Karena Rosario, her roommate.

Rosario, who then left the apartment at about 4:25 a.m. to stay with a friend, returned home around 11 a.m. and discovered “blood everywhere” and Hedgepeth dead.

Hedgepeth’s assailant reportedly used an empty Bacardi rum bottle to beat her, and she suffered multiple cuts on her arms, legs, head and face as well as extensive skull fractures. She was also reportedly sexually assaulted during the attack. An autopsy revealed she died from blunt-force trauma.

Investigators recovered DNA from a male at the crime scene, but they were unable to make a match until recently. Law enforcement officials have not revealed if or how the suspect and Hedgepeth knew each other or a possible motive for the murder.

“Our Faith had a heart of gold and an infectious smile that illumined [sic] a room,” Hedgepeth’s family said in a statement after Olivares’s arrest. “Although her time on earth was short, Faith had an enormous impact on many. Our lives were forever changed when Faith was taken from us on September 7, 2012. We are relieved to know that someone has been arrested in Faith's case.”

A member of the Haliwa-Saponi Native American tribe, Hedgepeth would have been the first in her family to graduate from college, and she dreamed of someday working with children as a pediatrician.

Hedgepeth’s father, Roland, told Dateline she was a “true joy” and “gift” who arrived at a low point in his life. “She kept me going. She was my Faith.”

"She was always thinking of other people,” he said. “That was the thing about her. She was beautiful on the outside, of course, but she also had this beauty on the inside. She always made me feel like I was the most special person in the world.”

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