Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Murder of Faith Hedgepeth


19 year old Faith Hedgepeth was a junior at UNC Chapel Hill when she was brutally murdered in her off-campus apartment on September 7th, 2012. Faith was a member of the Haliwa-Saponi Native American Tribe and hoped to one day return to her community to work as a doctor. She was working hard to accomplish that goal—in fact, on the night prior to her murder, Faith and her roommate Karena Rosario (pictured below with Faith) spent the evening at the campus library to work on a project. The two returned to their apartment at around 12 AM and then promptly left again at 12:30 AM to go to Thrill nightclub—a spot that was popular amongst Chapel Hill students. 

Karena Rosario and Faith

Faith and Karena returned to their apartment around 3 AM. Around 4:30 AM, Karena left the apartment once more, when she was picked up by another fellow Chapel Hill student, Jordan McCrary. Out of habit, Karena did not lock the door to their apartment when she left. 

Hours later, Karena wanted to return home, but was unable to get ahold of Faith for a ride. She instead called one of their mutual friends, Marisol Rangel, to pick her up. Karena and Marisol returned to Karena and Faith’s apartment around 11 AM. They called out Faith’s name, and when she did not answer, they opened her bedroom door and found Faith’s body partially covered by a bloody comforter on her bedroom floor. Karena immediately called 911 to report that her roommate had been murdered. When police arrived at the grisly scene, they found a paper bag near Faith’s body with words “I’m not stupid bitch jealous” written on it.


Paper bag found at the murder scene

As police investigated Faith’s murder, they pieced together a timeline that revealed interesting circumstances surrounding the events leading up to her death. From this timeline, it became clear that there were many potential suspects in the case.

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A friend of Faith’s told police that Faith had felt threatened by Karena’s ex-boyfriend, 21 year-old Eriq Takoy Jones. Sometime during the spring and summer of 2012, Eriq allegedly told Faith that he hated her and was going to kill her if Karena did not get back together with him. On July 11th, 2012, Karena obtained a restraining order against Eriq. The restraining order was granted after the police responded to a domestic assault incident in which Eriq had kicked two doors in Karena and Faith’s apartment off the frame. The investigators who were involved in the processing of this restraining order also learned that Eriq resented Faith because of the influence she had over Karena.

On September 6th, the day before Faith’s murder, Eriq sent messages to two of his friends, asking them to “forgive him for what he was about to do.” However, in the hours, or even possibly minutes leading up to Faith’s death, other men seemed to be the center of Faith and Karena’s attention. One of those men was another ex-boyfriend of Karena’s—fellow Chapel Hill student Brandon Edwards. 

At 3:40 AM on September 7th, after Faith and Karena returned from Thrill nightclub, Faith sent a text to Brandon asking him to come over because Karena “really needed him.” Karena also called Brandon multiple times between 3:40 AM and 4:15 AM but did not get a response. Finally, Karena gave up on Brandon and contacted Jordan, who subsequently picked her up around 4:30 AM.

Due to all of the people who Faith could have possibly come into contact with at the time of her death, AND the previous incidents involving Eriq, no person was above suspicion. Police have investigated Eriq and the numerous people Faith had contact with in the days and hours before her death. 

Karena faded from the public eye, which lead many to believe that she knew more about what happened to Faith than she was letting on. However, despite the abundance of evidence the police have collected in the years following Faith’s death, it took years to make an arrest. In the late 2010s, police generated a composite image of a possible suspect in the case based on DNA taken from the murder scene.



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FINALLY, in 2021, Faith's case finally made progress.

On September 16th, 2021, authorities announced that a man named Miguel Enrique Salguero-Olivares has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Police made the arrest after it was confirmed that DNA found in the crime scene matched the DNA of Olivares. Not much has been said about the relationship between Faith and the suspect, but police did say that he was not a person of interest in the beginning of the investigation.


This case is currently unfolding and updates will be provided if and when more information becomes available. 

Sunday, September 5, 2021

The Disappearance of Tisa Gantt


Tisa Gantt went missing at the age of 36 on January 2nd, 2007. She was last seen in Titusville, Florida. Shortly before her disappearance, Tisa filed sexual assault charges against a man named Edwin Deon Morris after he reportedly raped her near S. Deleon Ave. Tisa was very nervous about filing charges, as she feared that Morris would retaliate against her for telling the police what happened.

Despite these circumstances, police initially believed that Tisa left on her own accord. Her family has never believed this, as they do not believe Tisa would voluntarily be out-of-touch with her loved ones. As the investigation continued, police eventually began to think that something sinister happened to her. About a year after Tisa’s disappearance, a team of investigators searched property near the home of Edwin Morris, but reportedly nothing significant was found. Still, investigators returned to the same spot in 2011 and 2015 to conduct further searches. Morris has officially been named as a person of interest in Tisa’s disappearance. He is currently in prison on for an unrelated conviction, and at this time he has not been charged with anything related to Tisa’s case.

The numerous searches near Morris’s home included digging up parts of the property, likely in search of remains. So far, no sign of Tisa has been found. The only known trace of Tisa was found three years after her disappearance, in January 2010. Then, Tisa’s purse was found in a ditch near W.C. Stafford Street. Tisa’s personal belongings were inside the purse, but it had been in the ditch for so long that weeds were growing through it. A subsequent search of the surrounding area turned up no other evidence.

Tisa’s family members believe that more than one person knows what happened to her. Tisa’s brother Raymond Gantt explained, “there’s more people in Titusville that know what’s going on, but they don’t step forward.” At this time, there is a $5000 reward being offered to any person with information on Tisa’s disappearance. If you have any information that could help, please call Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS.
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UPDATE (September 2021):  On September 3rd, 2021, Titusville Police announced they were searching the vacant lot for evidence regarding the 2007 disappearance of Tisa Gantt. This is the same area that was searched during previous years, located near the home of Edwin Morris. Police have not revealed what prompted them to return to the property, nor have they revealed what--if anything--was found. The investigation is ongoing and updates will be provided if more information becomes available. 


Sources for this post: [1] [2]

The Murdaugh Family Mystery

 

Maggie & Paul Murdaugh

Maggie Murdaugh (52) and her son Paul Murdaugh (22) were found shot to death inside their family's estate in Colleton County, South Carolina on June 7th, 2021. Their bodies were discovered that evening shortly after 10 PM by Alex Murdaugh--Maggie's husband and Paul's father. Alex told police that he found his wife and son after returning from visiting his dying father in the hospital. No arrests have been made in the case, nor have any suspects been publicly named

The Murdaugh's are a wealthy and well-known family in South Carolina's Lowcountry. There are three generations of state prosecutors in the family, and they are believed to have political connections and strong influences in their community. It's very possible that their status and history of prosecuting many people have made the Murdaugh family a target for revenge. However, the only named person of interest in the case so far is Alex Murdaugh. Alex and Maggie were rumored to have been struggling with marital issues before the shootings. Investigators have obtained digital communication records between Alex and Maggie, but they have not revealed their findings. Despite being named a person of interest, Alex has NOT been named as a suspect. Alex's alibi has appeared to hold up--as it was confirmed that he was visiting his father on the day of the shootings. His father died just three days later.

Another theory that is being investigated is that the murders of Maggie and Paul are connected to Paul's pending legal troubles. At the time of his death, Paul was awaiting trial for charges connected to a February 2019 boat crash that resulted in the death of 19 year-old Mallory Beach. Paul is believed to have been driving the Triton boat while under the influence of alcohol when it crashed into a piling below a bridge on Parris Island. Nearly two months after the crash, Paul was indicted on one count of boating under the influence causing death, and two counts of boating under the influence causing great bodily injury. He pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

Mallory Beach

Paul never had his day in court, as he was killed before the trial began. Two months after his death, the charges stemming from the boat crash were dropped. However, many believed that the Murdaugh's influential power would have allowed Paul to walk free from any consequences regardless. It has been inevitably questioned whether or not this was a motive in his murder. The events surrounding both the crash and the murders of Paul and Maggie have left many lingering questions, further deepening this mystery.

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The boat crash occurred during the early morning hours of February 24th, 2019. On the evening of the 23rd, Paul met up with his friends Anthony Cook, Connor Cook, Morgan Doughty, Miley Altman, and Mallory Beach at his house. Paul then drove the group by boat to an oyster roast at the home of Crystal Cook in Hampton County. The group of kids were all under 21 years-old at the time, however they were reportedly drinking throughout the night. 

Anthony Cook, Connor Cook, Mallory Beach, Miley Altman

The group left the oyster roast shortly after midnight to go to bars on the Beaufort waterfront. Paul used his older brother's ID in order to be served alcohol at the bars. As the night continued on, Paul was reportedly getting more and more intoxicated and belligerent. Noticing his drunken state, Paul's friends suggested that somebody else drive the boat back, or that they take an Uber. Paul reportedly insisted on driving the boat, and he and his friends left the Beaufort waterfront shortly after 1 AM. 




Paul reportedly continued to act belligerently on the boat ride back. He got into a verbal altercation with Morgan Doughty, which resulted in him hitting her and spitting on her. He also reportedly argued with both Mallory Beach and Anthony Cook, who was Mallory's boyfriend at the time. At some point, Paul reportedly hit the throttle, causing the boat to go from 2 MPH to a high rate of speed.

According to testimony from Anthony Cook, once the boat accelerated, several of them were thrown to the back of the boat. Seconds later, the boat ran into the piling, causing Paul, Anthony, and Mallory to be thrown into the water. Paul and Anthony were able to swim to the shore, while Mallory never resurfaced. Her body was found seven days later. 

Although Paul was later charged for his involvement in the boat crash, many have speculated that law enforcement did not properly investigate. In fact, an attorney for one of the surviving passengers has called for the questioning of the responding officers about "a possible effort to shift blame away from Murdaugh, a member of a powerful Lowcountry family." These allegations came about after a recording revealed that Anthony Cook told a responding officer that Paul was the one driving the boat at the time of the crash--but the officer wrote in his notes that Anthony was not sure who was driving. 

It was also revealed that a few of the responding officers were represented by Murdaugh's law firm in previous unrelated cases. This has led many to question if these officers felt a sense of loyalty to the Murdaugh family. The officers in question have denied this, stating that they did, eventually, charge Paul for his involvement in the boat crash. 

Paul was bonded out very shortly after his arrest, and he remained out on bond as he awaited trial. As previously stated, both Paul and his mother Maggie were killed before the trial began. It's been theorized that Paul was the intended target in the June 7th shootings, and that Maggie was killed simply by 'happenstance'. Reports state that Paul and Maggie were killed by different weapons. An article from the Island Packet states that Paul "was shot in the head and upper body with a shotgun, while Maggie Murdaugh, 52, was killed with what appears to be an assault rifle." The theory about Paul being the intended target has not been confirmed. The investigation is still ongoing.

It is also possible that the murders of Paul and Maggie were completely unrelated to the 2019 boat crash. As previously noted, Alex Murdaugh was named as a potential person of interest. Still, he has not been formally named as a suspect--nor has anyone. The murder case remains unsolved. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please go here to submit an anonymous tip. 
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UPDATE (September 2021): Just months after the shooting deaths of his wife and son, Alex Murdaugh was also shot on September 3rd, 2021. The shooting occurred while Alex was changing a tire on the side of a rural road in South Carolina. He was reportedly shot in the head, however he was able to call his brother after the shooting to explain that "the shots came from a truck that initially passed him as he worked on his vehicle and then circled back and opened fire." Shortly thereafter, Alex was airlifted to a hospital in Charleston--where he is expected to make a full recovery.

As of now, no arrests have been made for this shooting. Authorities are investigating whether or not this shooting is related to the murders of Maggie and Paul.

The Disappearance & Murder of Kayleah Wilson

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