Authorities arrest friend in death of U Penn student

FILE--This undated file photo provided by the Orange County Sheriff's Department shows Blaze Bernstein. A suspect has been arrested in the death of 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania student Bernstein,whose body was found this week at a Southern California park. (Orange County Sheriff's Department via AP, file)
FILE--In this Jan. 10, 2018, file photo, Gideon and Jeanne Bernstein, parents of missing teen Blaze Bernstein, pictured at left, are joined by Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Brad Valentine, right, during a news conference in Lake Forest, Calif. A suspect has been arrested in the death of 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania student Blaze Bernstein, whose body was found this week at a Southern California park. (AP Photo/Amy Taxin, file)

SANTA ANA, Calif. — Authorities on Friday arrested a friend in the killing of a 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania student whose body was found buried in a shallow grave at a California park.

Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, of Newport Beach was taken into custody for investigation of homicide after DNA evidence linked him to the death of college sophomore Blaze Bernstein, Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes said.

Woodward was the last person to see Bernstein alive, Barnes said.

Woodward was interviewed by investigators after Bernstein was reported missing by his parents on Jan. 3.

A sheriff's investigator wrote in court filings that Woodward appeared nervous, had scratched hands and dirt under his fingernails, and avoided touching doors with his hands while leaving the sheriff's office building.

Bernstein was home visiting his family in Lake Forest during winter break when Woodward picked him up on Jan. 2 and drove with him to several places before winding up at a park.

Woodward told investigators that he left the park after Bernstein went out and didn't return or respond to social media messages.

The two knew each other from high school, Barnes said.

He said investigators were still trying to determine a motive and would not release details of the crime, which he called a murder.

Prosecutors said they would review evidence as they determine what charges to file. Barnes said Woodward had asked for a lawyer.

It was not immediately possible to reach Woodward in custody, where he listed his occupation as "Nerf games," according to the jail's website.

Authorities searched for Bernstein for nearly a week with assistance from drone pilots and found his body on Tuesday after recent rains partially exposed it.

The death of Bernstein rocked the community of Lake Forest, 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles. Hundreds of people held a candlelight vigil to remember him.

It was the only homicide reported in Lake Forest in at least the past four years, according to authorities.

Bernstein had attended Orange County School of the Arts for creative writing. He was recently chosen to edit a culinary magazine at the University of Pennsylvania.

His parents urged community members to keep his memory alive by working to improve the world.

"With his death, a beautiful light has been extinguished and we encourage you to continue to shine his light, through acts of loving kindness," the family said in a statement read by attorney Annee Della Donna.

___

This story has been corrected to Woodward appeared nervous during police interview, not Bernstein.

People also read these

Police: Woman killed by Florida officer in...

Aug 10, 2016

A police "shoot/ don't shoot" demonstration went shockingly awry when an officer shot and killed a...

Rowing canceled as skies darken over Rio Olympics

Aug 10, 2016

Rowers packed up their oars for the day while cyclists hit slippery roads on skinny time-trial...

Ex-New England mob boss arrested on charge he...

Aug 10, 2016

Former New England Mafia boss Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme (sah-LEHM'-ee) has been ordered held...

Refugee athletes from Congo find joy simply in...

Aug 10, 2016

Refugee athletes Yolande Bukasa and Popole Misenga competed in judo at the Rio Olympics, and they...

JonBenet Ramsey cold case focus of upcoming TV...

Aug 10, 2016

As the 20-year mark of the murder of JonBenet Ramsey nears, the unsolved case is the focus of...

About Us

The World Insiders brings you exclusive coverage from across the globe in a timely, easy to consume format sourced directly from our regional media partners.

Contact us: sales[at]theworldinsiders.com

Subscribe Now!