CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — The day Faith Hedgepeth was found beaten to death and left in a pool of blood near her bed changed the lives of her family forever, but it also changed the life of Eriq Jones.
“They knew from the beginning my DNA didn’t match the DNA that they had and they continued to let it go on for nine years with me being dragged through the mud,” Jones said.
Jones was dating Hedgepeth’s roommate at the time of her death and was considered a top person of interest. Police searched through his car and home for evidence connecting him to the crime.
Jones says the situation caused him to lose opportunities and friends.
“It’s hard when you want to call a friend but you really can’t because you have to explain this to every person you call. So, it caused a lot of dark days that were spent alone trying to get a hold of it. I spent a lot of days asking myself ‘how the hell am I in the middle of this situation,” Jones said.
Jones provided his DNA but it didn’t match the DNA found at the scene. Nine years later police now say DNA from the scene matches Miguel Salguero-Olivares who is now behind bars and charged with Hedgepeth’s murder.
“With the arrest of a person whose DNA matched the DNA from the crime scene, Eriq can now stand here and say I am innocent and now he can say it to people who are willing to listen,” Kellie Mannette, his attorney, said.
Jones said he doesn’t know the suspect, never saw him, and doesn’t understand the note left behind at the crime scene.
Jones says he would like an apology from the police department or a statement declaring his innocence but feels it isn’t likely to happen, saying the suspect’s arrest may just have to be enough.
“I’ve always wanted to grieve but I feel like that was taken from me as well because I was prime suspect number one from day one, so I cried a lot yesterday. Now it’s definitely time to heal,” Jones said.
Jones wouldn’t comment if he plans to pursue any legal action. He said he’s focused on his 2-year-old son and figuring out how he will explain all of this to him one day.