Miguel Enrique Salguero Olivares, a 28-year-old man from Durham, NC, was arrested on Thursday in connection with the murder of 19-year-old University of North Carolina Chapel Hill student Faith Hedgepeth, over nine years ago.
The suspect was found from a DNA sample provided by law enforcement that matched a profile from the original crime scene, according to Faith Hedgepeth’s family lawyer. At this time, it remains unclear how new DNA evidence was obtained and matched nearly a decade later, but investigators reportedly tagged Miguel Enrique Salguero Olivares as a potential suspect immediately following the crime.
“Nine years and nine days ago tragedy struck our community,” said Chris Blue, Chapel Hill chief of police and executive director for community safety. “Police officers responded to a heartbreaking scene. One where a promising young life had ended way too soon.”
“Our agency has been committed to bringing justice to Faith and her family since the day of her murder,” Blue said. “I am proud of all the people – inside our department and in the many partner agencies that assisted us – whose hard work made this result possible.”
“While today’s arrest will not bring Faith back, we are not yet done getting answers for Faith’s family,” he continued. “Today’s announcement marks the next phase of this investigation and we will, again, commit to preserving the integrity of this case with everything we’ve got.”
Chief of Police Chris Blue confirmed to the local ABC News reporters that Salguero Olivares was considered a suspect from the beginning of the case, but would not comment on if the two knew each other or what happened in the investigation that allowed for nine years to pass before catching her potential killer. They did reveal that the suspect’s face matched a composite sketch drawn at the time of the crime.
Miguel Enrique Salguero Olivares, 28, would have been around 19-years-old around the time, the same age as Faith Hedgepeth when she was murdered. Authorities unwilling to comment any further about the investigation have not released if Olivares has any criminal history.
“When I got the news this morning I didn’t do anything but cry,” Faith’s mother Connie Hedgepeth said at the news conference on Thursday. “Thank God and praise God because I put it in his hands and it was his timing.”
Her father, brief with his words, remarked that it was simply “an honor to be Faith’s dad.”
The news of Miguel Enrique Salguero Olivares’ arrest was also a relief for Eriq Takoy Jones, Faith Hedhepath’s former-roommate’s ex-boyfriend, who was long suspected in the crime.
“Despite voluntarily providing his DNA, which did not match the DNA of the killer, [Chapel Hill Police Department] has refused to acknowledge Eriq is innocent,” his lawyer said in a statement. While the news may prove Jones’ innocence, it doesn’t help that his “name has been slandered” since 2012.
“To the murderers and rapists,” family attorney John Stein declared, “no matter how long ago you committed your crime, we will never stop coming for you.”
According to Stein, police detectives who worked the case for over nine years conducted thousands of interviews and had 12 analysts working on over 53 submissions of evidence and 229 different DNA samples.
“Today, our hearts and prayers are with Faith’s family and loved ones as we continue honoring her life and memory,” said the University of North Carolina. “We also want to thank our campus and community partners, including the Chapel Hill Police Department, UNC Police, state law enforcement and investigators for their perseverance in this case.”