Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Suspect Arrested in Murder of UPenn Student Blaze Bernstein

Suspect Arrested in Murder of UPenn Student Blaze Bernstein

Samuel Woodward, 20, a high school classmate of Bernstein's, was brought into custody Friday afternoon during a traffic stop and charged with suspicion of homicide in the death of the teenager.

Bernstein was on winter break from college and visiting his parents in Lake Forest when he disappeared.

After the sheriff's department announced on Wednesday it had found and identified Bernstein's body, his parents thanked investigators in an emotional statement to reporters.

Barnes refused to discuss what murder weapon was allegedly used.

But he did say that autopsy results were pending. Few details about Woodward were released, though authorities said he was from Newport Beach.

"The rains helped move some of the dirt", he said.

Woodward won't be in court until Tuesday, the district attorney said, adding that he was not at this point ready to say what charges will be filed against him.

The prosecutor said that the entire incident was "very tragic" and that Bernstein "had a life in front of him that is now extinguished". Several celebrities, including Big Bang Theory actress and Lakers legends and, posted about the case as Bernstein's whereabouts were still unknown to the public. Woodward left and then returned at 4 a.m.to search again but didn't find Bernstein, investigators said. In the affidavit, authorities also said the friend appeared nervous and was "visibly shaking".

The body of Bernstein, a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania was found on Tuesday at Borrego Ranch Park in Southern California. Bernstein was home for winter break when he went missing on January 2

During a meeting with authorities earlier this week, police say Woodward put his jacket over his hand so that his bare skin would not touch any part of the doors he opened and closed on his way out of the police station.

Barnes said there were also "inconsistencies" in Woodward's story.

It was ultimately DNA evidence that helped investigators initiate the arrest of Woodward. "Woodward to Mr. Bernstein", Barnes said Friday. Bernstein's death has rocked the tight-knit community 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles. When Bernstein didn't return, his friend began sending him text messages but didn't hear back, she said, adding the location device on his phone eventually stopped working. That led them to fill out a missing person's report.

The friend said he went with Bernstein to a neighborhood park in the city of Lake Forest on January 2 to meet up with the victim's girlfriend but stayed in the auto, the Orange County sheriff's investigator wrote in a a search warrant affidavit.

It's unclear whether the unnamed friend is Woodward.

At the press conference, Annee Della Donna, an attorney for the Bernstein family said they were grateful for the work of local law enforcement in this past week.

The friend had attended the Orange County School of the Arts with Bernstein. An affidavit described detectives' interview with that friend who drove Berstein to the park the last time he was seen alive. The warrant, obtained by the Orange County Register, said that the friend had scratches and abrasions on his hands and dirty fingernails and that he said he could not recall the last name or address of a girlfriend he visited after dropping off Bernstein.


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