CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — It has been a decade since the murder of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student Faith Hedgepeth.
The crime rocked the UNC-Chapel Hill campus and its community.
Rolanda Hedgepeth remembers her sister as being full of life.
“Faith was very outgoing and very smart. She loved helping people, that was the biggest thing about her,” Hedgepeth said.
She said Faith was passionate about working with children and giving back to her Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe.
Her dream was to be a pediatrician or a teacher, but that never came to be.
Faith was found dead in her Chapel Hill apartment on Sept. 7, 2012. An autopsy revealed she died of blunt force trauma to the head.
She was 19 years old, just shy of her 20th birthday.
“It has been tough. It hasn’t been an easy road,” Rolanda Hedgepeth said. “We’ll just keep the faith and know that justice will come for her.”
Authorities made an arrest nine years and nine days after Faith’s death.
Miguel Salguero-Olivares, of Durham, was arrested on Sept. 16, 2021, and charged with first-degree murder.
Rolanda Hedgepeth said the first thing that went through her mind was, “it’s finally happening.”
A decade after Faith’s death, loved ones want her to be remembered for who she was, not what happened to her.
“She touched a lot of lives; she did a lot in her short period of time,” Rolanda Hedgepeth said.
Now, Faith’s legacy lives on through the Faith’s Smile Scholarship, started by her family and funded through donations. It’s for Indigenous women pursuing higher education.
Two $1,000 scholarships are awarded each year on Faith’s birthday, Sept. 26.
To date, the family has awarded more than 20 scholarships in Faith’s name.
Taylor Williams, who grew up in the same Hollister community as Faith, is a past scholarship recipient.
“She walked the same bricks that we walked, sat at the same classrooms that we sit in,” Williams said, a UNC 2021 graduate. “It was just very meaningful to be able to go to the school that she went to and kind of do what she wanted to do — and sadly she couldn’t finish.”
Zianne Richardson is a Faith’s Smile Scholarship recipient, too.
“I sort of saw myself in the legacy she left behind,” Richardson said. “So, wanting to help her people, kindness to others, a big heart, a bright personality and just to have a scholarship award in honor of someone like that, it was a very humbling thing for me.”
Growing up in Hollister, Richardson remembers participating in the praise team with faith.
“If I had to think about one specific thing I remember about her, it’s what everybody says, her smiling at me,” Richardson said.
Those who knew Faith often describe her smile as one that could brighten up a room, something Richardson carries with her every day.
“When I think about Faith’s smile, it’s also a daily encouragement for me to just go about my day and just smile at people because that was something that seems so small but it’s such a big part of her memory,” Richardson said.
Come spring 2023, Richardson will graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill, keeping Faith close to her heart.
“I feel like I’m doing it for her,” Ricardson said. “So, I know that in May when it’s time for me to graduate, it’s also going to be kind of a bittersweet moment because I know she didn’t get that moment, but I feel like she’s with me.”
For the Hedgepeth family, Faith is always with them.
They plan to continue celebrating her life, giving back and helping other college students.
“It feels great giving back,” Rolanda Hedgepeth said.
It’s all in honor of Faith’s memory and the lasting impact she had on the community.
“Still lots of sad moments, but I just remember that she would want us to be happy. She wouldn’t want us to be sad. So, we try to push through,” Rolanda Hedgepeth said.
Salguero-Oliveras is currently being held in the Durham County Detention Center without bond.
Police have not said how he and Faith were connected.
Additionally, no trial date for Salguero-Oliveras has been set at this time. Meanwhile, Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue provided the following statement to CBS17:
“Our thoughts are with all of Faith’s family and friends on the tenth anniversary of her murder. In partnership with the Durham County District Attorney, we remain committed to bringing justice to Faith and her family.”