Southern California

Suspect Arrested in Slaying of College Student Blaze Bernstein

Blaze Bernstein's body was found Tuesday after an extensive search through Borrego Park in Orange County

Authorities say they've arrested a friend of the victim in connection with the death of a 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania student who disappeared during a visit home to Southern California.

The suspect was identified as 20-year-old Samuel Woodward.

Blaze Bernstein's body was found Tuesday after an extensive search through Borrego Park in Orange County. Authorities said they were investigating his death as a homicide but would not say how he died.

Bernstein, who was home visiting family in Orange County during his school break from the University of Pennsylvania, was last seen alive about 11 p.m. on Jan. 2. He told relatives he was meeting up with his friends. He was reported missing the following day after family members were unable to get in contact with him.

On Thursday, investigators said they had interviewed a friend of Bernstein's in connection with the case.

The friend said he went with Bernstein to a neighborhood park in the city of Lake Forest on Jan. 2 to meet up with the victim's girlfriend but stayed in the car, the Orange County sheriff's investigator wrote in a a search warrant affidavit. The friend said he could not recall the girlfriend's last name or address.

He said he left about an hour later when Bernstein did not return to the vehicle or respond on social media. He alleged he returned to the park several hours later but could not find Bernstein. 

Detectives noted the friend had dirt under his fingernails during the interview, to which he claimed was caused by a fall. Officials also saw that the friend had several cuts and scratches, but he claimed they stemmed from a "fight club" he was involved in.

"On their way out of sheriff's headquarters, [investigators] noticed every door [the friend] had to touch on the way out of the building he pulled his jacket over his hand to prevent his hand and fingers from touching any part of the doors he touched," according to the affidavit.

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