CHAPEL HILL–A ribbon hangs outside the door of the American Indian Center to honor one of their own.
“She was very bright, smart, energetic young lady,” those are the words Amy Locklear Hertel uses to describe Faith Hedgepeth.
Between juggling classes, Hedgepeth spent most of her time at UNC behind those doors.
“Beyond just being active she helped to educate those on the campus community about American indians, about American Indian people, issues and culture,” Locklear Hertel added.
Hedgepeth was a member of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe of Hollister who had plans to go to medical school after finishing UNC.
Those dreams came to an end Friday morning when she was found dead inside her apartment.
The news has sent shockwaves throughout the UNC community.
“I mean it’s a scary world and there are people out there that don’t have the best intentions in mind,” said student Ashley Dean.
The Chapel Hill Police Department is investigating Hedgepeth’s death as a homicide. The manner and cause of death have not been released.
Hedgepeth’s friends say they are devastated by her death. Locklear Hertel says when they found out they gathered at the American Indian Center. Inside the center on Saturday, they shared stories to find strength.
In doing so, they remembered words Hedgepeth herself would say.
“I’m told she often would you’ve gotta have a little faith, and that is what I believe will keep us going through this difficult time,” Locklear Hertel said.
While questions remain surrounding her death, her friends say they want to celebrate her life and put the focus on who she was.
Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt released the following statement in response to Hedgepeth’s death:
“In times of disasters and tragic losses, our community comes together to grieve. I am deeply saddened and sorry for the loss of Faith Danielle Hedgepeth. On behalf of the greater Chapel Hill community, I ask that you join us in remembering Faith’s family and her many friends in your thoughts and prayers. The Chapel Hill Police Department is committed to ensuring that her death is investigated thoroughly. The investigation is ongoing and further information regarding this incident will be released as the investigation progresses. At this point in the investigation, police do not believe that this was a random act.”
A candlelight vigil to celebrate Hedgepeth’s life is scheduled for Monday night at “The Pit” on UNC’s campus at 8:00 p.m.