An arrest has now been made in the case of missing University of Pennsylvania student Blaze Bernstein whose body was found this week in an Orange County park. The high school classmate of Bernstein who said he had cuts and scrapes from a “fight club” has been arrested and taken into custody. Samuel Lincoln Woodward made the detectives investigating the Bernstein case suspicious early on with several inconsistencies in his story which caused them to take DNA samples from Woodward. The results of the DNA samples in the Bernstein case reportedly led authorities back to Woodward.
The Body Of UPenn Student Blaze Bernstein Was Found Wednesday
University of Pennsylvania pre-med student Blaze Bernstein was home for winter break in Orange County when he went missing on January 2. Blaze Bernstein’s parents, Jeanne and Gideon Bernstein, got the news earlier this week that authorities found his body in a local park under some brush, and gave a brief statement at a press conference.
“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.”
Arrest made in death of 19-year-old Penn. student Blaze Bernstein, found dead in an Orange County park this week. https://t.co/phHRBEcUk2— 10News (@10News) January 12, 2018
OC Detectives Suspected Bernstein’s Friend After He Used A ‘Fight Club’ Excuse For Cuts
The Los Angeles Times broke the news that Samuel Lincoln Woodward, the friend who says that Blaze Bernstein contacted him for a ride before he went missing, was arrested and taken into custody. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department secured a search warrant and took DNA samples from Woodward (and matched them to the body of Blaze Bernstein) after his story about dropping off Blaze Bernstein at a park in the middle of the night didn’t add up.
Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes said that Woodward’s story about scratches and abrasions from a secret “fight club” didn’t add up, and put Woodward on their radar. Barnes said that after the DNA results came back, Woodward was under surveillance and was then picked up by police and arrested on suspicion of homicide on Friday afternoon.
Bernstein Family Expressed Gratitude To The OC Sheriff’s Department
Jeanne Pepper Bernstein, the mother of Blaze Bernstein, gave a statement thanking authorities.
“I would just say that we are grateful for the fine men and women in the [Sheriff’s Department] who have worked tirelessly to get answers for our family, our community, and the world. 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. 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.”
The Los Angeles Times attempted to speak to someone at the Newport Beach home of Samual Woodward, and a woman at the home said she didn’t want to talk to the press about the Blaze Bernstein murder.
“I would appreciate it if you would respect my privacy.”
Authorities have arrested College sophomore Blaze Bernstein's high school friend Samuel Woodward, 21, who drove the College sophomore to the park on the night that he went missing. https://t.co/BXPzcSFaIK— The Daily Pennsylvanian (@dailypenn) January 12, 2018
Samuel Woodward Became A Suspect Early On In The Bernstein Investigation After Acting Odd
The NBC Los Angeles affiliate said that Samuel Woodward, 20, exhibited strange and suspicious behavior from the first time they interviewed him in the Bernstein disappearance after tracking Woodward down through Blaze Bernstein’s Snapchat account. Woodward had odd explanations about many things that detectives observed, including a heavy amount of dirt under Woodward’s fingernails. Woodward explained that he had fallen in a puddle. Detectives asked Woodward where he went after allegedly dropping off Blaze Bernstein at the park, and he said he went to his girlfriend’s house, but could not remember her name.
Orange County detectives also said they noticed that Samuel Woodward was trying to avoid leaving fingerprints on anything at the police station.
“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.”