A high school friend has been arrested in the murder of Blaze Bernstein, the Ivy League student killed near his home in southern California.
Police identified the suspect as Samuel Woodward, 20, of nearby Newport Beach, the Orange County Register reported. They say DNA evidence links Woodward, who was the last person known to have seen Bernstein alive, with the slaying.
There was no word on any possible motive.
Bernstein’s family posted photos of them lighting Shabbat candles in his honor Friday night.
The 19-year-old was home for winter break from his sophomore year at the University of Pennsylvania. He went missing in the early morning hours of January 3. His parents reported him missing later that morning when they realized he had left the house and never returned home.
Finally. My thoughts are: Revenge is empty. It will never bring back my son. My only hopes are that he will never have the opportunity to hurt anyone else again and that something meaningful can come from the senseless act of Blaze’s murder. Now Do Good for Blaze Bernstein— Jeanne Pepper (@bernsteinmom) January 12, 2018
“Nothing will bring back my son so we ask the world to please honor Blaze’s memory by doing an act of kindness today - don’t wait - do it now,” the grieving mom told the Los Angeles Times. “Celebrate the goodness that still exists in this world in-spite of these acts of senseless evil.”
According to an affidavit published in the Register, police twice interviewed the man now identified as Woodward, who said he drove the man to a park so that he could meet a third person.
The Register reported, based on an affidavit signed by police investigators, that the suspect was “visibly shaking” in one interview. He also had dirt under his fingernails and scratches on his hands, which he attributed to having participated in an outdoor fight club with some friends.
#OCSDPIO: Samuel Woodward, 20, of Newport Beach. He is suspected of killing 19 yo #BlazeBernstein. pic.twitter.com/vqZDN0uPmO— OC Sheriff, CA (@OCSD) January 13, 2018
Detectives said, however, that the friend’s story — which included driving away from the park where he had dropped off Bernstein after not hearing from him for an hour — “stayed fairly consistent” across two interviews.
Woodward attended Orange County School of the Arts around the same time as Bernstein.