Jan. 13 (UPI) — A former high school classmate of a University of Pennsylvania sophomore was arrested after the 19-year-old was found dead in Southern California.
Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, is being detained on suspicion of homicide in the death of Blaze Bernstein the Orange County Sheriff’s Department announced Friday.
They both attended Orange County School of the Arts, a school noted for creative writing, the Daily Pennsylvanian reported.
Bernstein’s family reported him missing Jan. 3 after he didn’t show up for a dental appointment and noticed he left his wallet and glasses at his room in Lake Forest. He was on winter break from school.
Witnesses said he was last seen at approximately 11 p.m the night before, entering Borrego Park in Foothill Ranch with a friend.
His body was found Tuesday in the brush surrounding Borrego Park in Foothill Ranch after rain runoff exposed some remains, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said.
DNA results linked Woodward to the killing, investigators said, and he was arrested after leaving his house about 1:15 p.m. Friday. A search warrant that the Orange County Register obtained claimed detectives found scratches and dirt on Woodward’s hands, though he told investigators they came from a fight club, as well as a fall into a puddle.
The affidavit claimed Woodward told investigators he and Bernstein drove to the park, where Bernstein left to meet a third person. Woodward reportedly said he came back hours later, but couldn’t find Bernstein.
“By all accounts, both of these families are good people whose lives have been turned upside down in a terrible way,” Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said.
Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes said the motive wasn’t known.
“Nothing will bring back my son, so we ask the world to please honor Blaze’s memory by doing an act of kindness today,” Jeanne Pepper Bernstein, mother of the victim, told The Los Angeles Times. “Don’t wait, do it now. Celebrate the goodness that still exists in this world in spite of these acts of senseless evil. People are good and Blaze knew that. Honor yourselves and him.”
Bernstein had also just been elected to serve as the managing editor of Penn Appétit, a food publication at Penn.