Gaston County Police arrive at timeline for family murder-suicide

By Sharon Smith - bio l email

GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Police have narrowed down a timeline for when they believe a father shot his pregnant girlfriend and their three children. Only one child survived.

Seven-year-old Destiny Minter is still in ICU. Friends of the family say she is improving and responding to loved ones.

Sgt. Steve Dover said the shooting happened sometime 11:00pm Thursday and 2:00pm Friday. Co-workers of Tracy Hedgepath became concerned and called family members when she did not show up for work Friday afternoon.

Police say her boyfriend, Austen Blake Minter, shot Hedgepath and their children in the kitchen area of their home at 1303 Dean Drive near the town of Dallas.

Family members described the children as happy. They had recently attended Vacation  Bible School at the church where the Hedgepath's attend.

Hedgepath's parents discovered the bodies and called 911. Destiny, who was shot in the head, can be heard in the background of the 911 call saying, "Daddy did it."

Sgt. Dover says officers who worked the crime scene held a briefing to talk about their feelings and help process the emotion.

"We are a team, but we are also a family," said Dover. One officer had a connection to the family. Their sons played baseball together, and the officer coached the little league team. Dover says they told that officer not to go inside the home.

"I made a phone call to another crime scene officer about to go on vacation, and he stepped up to the plate," said Dover.

"Death is not something new to them," he said, but they never get used to such extreme violence involving children.

Dover says they will always be connected to the one survivor.

"We wonder about her well-being after all is said and done," he said.

Concerned members of the community are holding a vigil for the family Wednesday night outside the courthouse in Dallas. It starts at 7:00pm.

There's also an effort to raise money to pay for all the funerals. Donations can be sent to any Wachovia Branch in care of the Tracy Hedgepath Assistance Fund.

Hillview Baptist Church is also accepting donations to help the family with funeral expenses. The address is: 403 Dallas Stanley Highway, Dallas, NC 28034.