Ruby Vicente celebrated Guatemalan Independence Day with her neighbor and fellow Guatemalan immigrant Fluvia Olivares on Wednesday.
Thursday afternoon, Vicente walked next door to Olivares’ home with mole, a sweet and salty dish made with meat, left over from the festive meal. But police and detectives were searching her home, and she was gone.
Then, Olivares called. Could Vicente pick her up from the Chapel Hill police station on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard?
Her son, Miguel Enrique Salguero-Olivares, had been arrested that morning as a suspect in the unsolved 2012 killing of 19-year-old UNC sophomore Faith Hedgepeth.
Olivares was “torn apart” and “sin mente,” literally “without a mind” in disbelief, that her 28-year-old son had been arrested and charged with murder, Vicente said in Spanish to The News & Observer on Friday.
Police have released few details about Salguero-Olivares, the man they say killed Hedgepeth over nine years ago.
In 2012, Hedgepeth was found beaten to death in her friend’s off-campus apartment. She was a member of the Haliwa-Saponi tribal community who wanted to become a pediatrician to help the community in her hometown of Hollister.
Her murder has drawn national attention and has been featured on numerous TV shows and true-crime podcasts.
Police have not said what relationship, if any, Salguero-Olivares had to Hedgepeth.
He was arrested after investigators made a positive DNA match Wednesday with a profile derived from the original crime scene, officials said at a Thursday news conference.
Friday, he made his first appearance in Durham court where he was denied bond. He appeared in court via video-conferencing while the courtroom, including Roland Hedgepeth, Faith’s father, watched.
Statements made about his case were relayed to him through an interpreter. He was appointed a public defender, and his next hearing is scheduled Oct. 7.
Who is Miguel Enrique Salguero-Olivares?
Vicente has been a close friend of Olivares and her son since they moved into the southwest Durham apartment complex some three years ago.
She has no clue how Salguero-Olivares, then a recently arrived immigrant from Guatemala, could have known the college student.
“I’m truly surprised that he is a suspect because ... when someone immigrates from their home country, they come here with a focus on working, not to (go to college),” Vicente told The N&O. “In the first place, he didn’t know the language and secondly he didn’t have the financial means to be able to go to college.”
Salguero-Olivares was not initially a suspect in the homicide case, according to police, who have not said when that changed.
Chapel Hill Police said they tested hundreds of DNA samples since 2012 to rule out suspects.
At the time of the murder, Salguero-Olivares was 19, in the United States only a couple of years and spoke little to no English, according to Vicente.
It does not make sense to her, she said.
If Salguero-Olivares had wanted to get an education, he would have gone to high school, she says. He was most recently working as a painter and drywall finisher.
“I think that (the murder) that year doesn’t coincide with the mentality that you have when you arrive to a new country,” she said. “You’re scared, and you don’t have many resources.”
Olivares did not answer her apartment door when reporters from The N&O stopped by Friday.
She raised her son as a single mother and lived only with him, having brought him with her in 2010 or 2011 from the department, or state, of Tepén in Guatemala, Vicente said.
Both Salguero-Olivares and his mother have always been kind to her, Vicente said, sharing in the big meals she often cooks. She never noticed anything strange or violent about him.
Court records indicate that before Salguero-Olivares moved to Durham, he lived in an apartment complex on Ephesus Church Road in Chapel Hill.
In 2014, he was convicted of driving while impaired in Orange County.
On Aug. 16, he was charged in Wake County with driving while impaired, with a 0.20 blood alcohol level, two-and-a-half times the legal limit, according to court documents.
Salguero-Olivares also faced charges of no operator’s license, no liability insurance, an open container alcohol violation and a registration violation, court documents showed.
He failed to appear in court Sept. 3, and an outstanding order for his arrest was issued Sept. 7.
“This is a huge surprise to me, really,” said Vicente.
She said she trusts in the authorities, but hopes that the truth will come out from their investigation.
Roland Hedgepeth said Friday after court that he felt emotional after the arrest. He hoped people would remember his daughter as more than just a victim of a horrific crime.
“It’s just a new beginning,” he said. “Everything is just starting.”
Staff writer Julian Shen-Berro contributed to this report.
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