When the blond-haired, brown-eyed murder victim, found shot to death on March 5, was identified as University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's student body president Eve Carson, the quintessentially quiet southern town was turned on its head, and not for the first time.
Carson's murder — as brutal and random as it seems — was not the first the college town has mourned.
In 1993, 26-year-old UNC student Kristin Lodge-Miller, whom Carson bore a striking resemblance to, was gunned down in broad daylight as she took her daily jog, putting the violent murder on display for a number of early morning commuters.
Lodge-Miller's assailant, then 18-year-old Anthony Georg Simpson, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Some community members argued the charge was too lenient, believing Simpson, who is black, should have been slapped with a charge of first-degree murder for killing the white coed.
Simpson was sentenced to life in prison and became eligible for parole after serving 10 years. He is now up for parole every year, but he has yet to get it.
As details of Carson's death emerged last week, Chapel Hill residents quickly learned that they must yet again cope with a violent clash between the largely affluent, advantaged world of the UNC campus and the more impoverished communities that surround the college.
In an interview with the local paper after Carson's murder, Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy spoke to the lasting memories these violent acts inflict on the community.
"I don't think anybody who lived here then will ever forget it," Foy said of the Lodge-Miller murder in the News & Observer. "It's part of what we carry around with us.
"The grief for [Carson's death] … is different," Foy said. "But the scars from Kristin Lodge-Miller's murder are still with us."
Carson, 22, hailed from a well-off community in Athens, Ga., and boasted a long list of academic and leadership awards, including being named a Morehead-Cain Scholar, an award that came with a full scholarship to UNC.
But just nine miles away from where Carson's body was found, the two young men now charged with her killing lived a polar opposite existence in the neighboring city of Durham. While Carson's academic career was taking off, her alleged murderers, Demario James Atwater, 21, and Laurence Alvin Lovette, 17, were keeping busy on the streets.
Atwater and Lovette, who are both black, dropped out of the same high school in Durham after their sophomore years, and both have extensive rap sheets. And as of last week, both now face charges of first-degree murder.
Lovette, who was subsequently charged with first-degree murder for the Jan. 18 killing of a Duke University graduate student, was convicted of breaking and entering and put on 24 months' probation earlier this year, according to Durham County court records obtained by ABCNEWS.com.
Atwater was on probation for a 2005 conviction for misdemeanor breaking and entering, and in 2007, was convicted of possession of a firearm, a felony, according to records.
Just two days before Carson's murder, Atwater was due at a probation violation hearing that could have put him behind bars, but a paperwork mistake postponed the court date, according to a report by The News & Observer.