Friend With Dirt Under Nails Arrested in Student's Death

Samuel Woodward was last person to see Blaze Bernstein alive
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2018 5:30 AM CST
Friend Arrested in Death of UPenn Student Found in Park
This undated file photo provided by the Orange County Sheriff's Department shows Blaze Bernstein.   (Orange County Sheriff's Department via AP, file)

Police believe the 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania student found dead in a California park knew his killer. Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, of Newport Beach was arrested Friday in the death of college sophomore Blaze Bernstein; the AP reports the two were friends who had gone to high school together. Per Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes, Woodward was the last person to see Bernstein alive, and DNA evidence spurred the arrest. Woodward had told police the two drove to Borrego Park on Jan. 2 and that Bernstein walked into the park by himself and did not return. Court filings back up initial reports: That a sheriff's investigator thought Woodward seemed nervous during their interview, that he had scratches on his hands and dirtied fingernails, and that he tried not to touch the building's doors.

Bernstein had been home for winter break visiting his family in Lake Forest, and his mother had this to say to the Los Angeles Times in the wake of the arrest: "We ask the world to please honor Blaze’s memory by doing an act of kindness today—don’t wait —do it now. Celebrate the goodness that still exists in this world." Police have not provided a motive or details of the crime beyond saying Bernstein was found in a shallow grave. Woodward had previously attempted to explain the state of his hands. (More murder stories.)

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