UPenn Student Blaze Bernstein’s Death Is Being Treated As Homicide

Bernstein's body was found in brush in a Foothill Ranch Park, and a classmate is being questioned

Gideon and Jeanne Bernstein, parents of missing teen Blaze, pictured left, are joined by Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Brad Valentine, right, during a news conference in Lake Forest, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, The body of the University of Pennsylvania student who went missing on Jan. 2, while home in Southern California on winter break has been found, and his death is being investigated as a homicide, authorities said on Wednesday.
Amy Taxin / AP Images

Bernstein's body was found in brush in a Foothill Ranch Park, and a classmate is being questioned

Searchers found the body of a University of Pennsylvania pre-med student, home from winter break, in thick brush in a Foothills Ranch park, Borrego Park in Orange County, California. Police are now treating the death of Blaze Bernstein as a homicide. Blake Bernstein, 19, reportedly last met up with a high school classmate and had not been seen since. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department says that the case is active, and they are questioning the last known person to see Bernstein alive to create an accurate timeline of Blaze Bernstein’s disappearance.

The Body Of UPenn Student Blaze Bernstein Was Found In A Foothills Ranch Park

Detectives involved in the investigation into the death of Blaze Bernstein have reported that Bernstein’s high-school classmate who says that he dropped him off at the park appeared nervous when he was being questioned, says Mercury News. Carrie Braun, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, would not comment on the cause of death or the condition of the body until after the autopsy.

“They’re still following up on multiple leads.”

Police searched Borrego Park for days with volunteers on land and air, including with drones, but couldn’t see Bernstein’s body until after rainstorms on Tuesday. Carrie Brain would not say whether the body had been buried. A full autopsy is being done on Blaze Bernstein, and the results will be made public when the final reports are in.

Gideon and Jeanne Bernstein, parents of Blaze Bernstein, gave a statement at a press conference after they were notified that their son’s body was found.

“We have just learned that the O.C. Sheriff’s Department and coroner’s office has confirmed our family’s worst fears and have positively identified our son Blaze’s body. Our family is devastated by the news. We – like so many of you around the world – love Blaze and wanted nothing more than his safe return.”

Gideon Bernstein, Father Of Blaze, Spoke At The Initial Orange County Sheriff’s Press Conference

Sheriff’s Lt. Brad Valentine added some additional information at the press conference about the timeline on the night of January 2 when Blaze Bernstein was last seen by his parents. Valentine says he believes that Bernstein died the night he was last seen when he allegedly asked a friend to drive him after dark to the park. Valentine also released an affidavit that reported what the friend of Bernstein told detectives.

Blaze Bernstein and the friend (whose name has not been released), who both attended Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana, allegedly were in contact over SnapChat when Bernstein asked the friend to pick him up to “hang out and catch up.” The friend, who is now known as the witness, said Bernstein complained about the grades he was getting at the University of Pennsylvania and “seemed depressed.” In the initial interview, the witness said that Bernstein asked to be dropped off at the park at 3:40 a.m.

Two days after the disappearance of Blaze Bernstein, detectives spoke to the witness again and asked about “scratches and abrasions” on the witness’s hands and arms, and the witness said he was involved in a “fight club.”

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department Is Trying To Complete The Timeline

People Magazine is reporting that Blaze Bernstein was murdered soon after he went missing. On the night that Blaze Bernstein disappeared, Gideon and Jeanne Bernstein believed that he was in his bedroom sleeping. The couple did not realize Blaze Bernstein was missing until he failed to show at a dental appointment the next day.

The witness who last saw Blaze Bernstein claims that Bernstein was meeting up with a third party at the park, according to a sheriff’s department representative.

“There has kind of been some rumors about them meeting a third person. I don’t have specific information on that. At this point, the best thing to say is our investigators are actively following up on every lead that they can that will lead to an arrest of a suspect in this case.”

A Facebook page to remember Blaze Bernstein was set up by his father, Gideon Bernstein. If you have any information in relation to the disappearance and death of Blaze Bernstein, please contact the Orange County Sheriff’s Department: (714) 647-7000 or (949) 770-6011.