Funeral plans set for mother, children in murder-suicide - | WBTV Charlotte

Funeral plans set for mother, children in murder-suicide

Serenity and Austen II (Source: Whithers and Whisenant Funeral Home) Serenity and Austen II (Source: Whithers and Whisenant Funeral Home)
Austin Minter and Tracy Hedgepath Austin Minter and Tracy Hedgepath

By Brigida Mack - bio l email

GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - The funeral plans have been announced for a murdered mother and her children after nearly 500 people gathered in Dallas for a prayer vigil earlier this week. 

Last Friday, police say Austen Minter, 25, shot and killed his pregnant girlfriend, Tracy Hedgepath, 24, and two of their children, Austen II, 6, and Serenity, 3.  A third child, 7-year-old Destiny, survived the shooting.  

Minter allegedly had a separate family, including two other children by another woman, who were not involved in the killings.  The couple, who were not married, also had a violent relationship that involved authorities being called to their home 24 times over two years.

The funeral plans for Tracy Hedgepath and her two children will start with a visitation from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday at Hillview Baptist Church.  Burial will follow at Long Creek Memorial Baptist Church Cemetery.  (Click here for complete details)

During a vigil on Wednesday, family members and hundreds of others turned out to remember the family.

Through her tears, Cynthia Morrison, Hedgepath's sister, told the crowd, "They were all so wonderful and full of love and life and will leave a hole in our hearts for them."

Feeling helpless, yet determined to help, Lori Shaw who didn't know either the Hedgepath or Minter families helped organize the vigil.

"It's just unthinkable," said Shaw. "So, when you lay at bed at night and you can't sleep because you're thinking of it, you know something has to be done."

Even Shaw couldn't have imagined the turnout.  Hundreds showed up including a group of teachers who walked eight blocks from Carr Elementary School where young Austen was a kindergartner.

"He was truly a treasure that will never be forgotten," said his teacher, Katie Thomas.  "He always had a smile on his face everyday, always happy about life, carefree.  [He] lived to play T-ball.  [He] loved his friends."

WBTV has learned the town of Dallas has purchased the family's burial plots because they didn't have life insurance.

Wednesday's vigil also helped raise money to help pay for the funerals of Tracy Hedgepath and her children.

Donations to help the family pay for funeral expenses may be sent to:

Hillview Baptist Church
c/o Tracy Hedgepeth Assistance Fund
403 Dallas-Stanley Highway
Dallas, NC  28034

You can also make donations at any Wachovia Bank and the Gastonia Kmart location for the Tracy Hedgepath Assistance Fund.  

Copyright 2010 WBTV. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly