Ex-high school classmate arrested in death of UPenn student

Saul Bowman
January 17, 2018

DNA evidence has now linked Woodward to the crime.

According to a 16-page search warrant affidavit obtained by The Orange County Register, text messages sent by Bernstein suggested he may have been planning to sexually pursue Woodward. "Now Do Good for Blaze Bernstein".

"We will use wisely the time we have left together", Jeanne and Gideon Bernstein said today in a statement.

Nineteen-year-old Bernstein's body was discovered in a shallow grave in Borrego Park on Tuesday.

"Based on inconsistencies in [Samuel's account], our investigators focused on this individual in the homicide of Blaze", Don said, adding Samuel has been under surveillance "for some time" before his arrest at 1:15 p.m. on Friday.

A few hours later, Bernstein left the house without saying goodbye. A vigil was held in the memory of Blaze Bernstein on Wednesday night.

On Monday, the same day Blaze Bernstein's family held a memorial service for him, a search warrant affidavit acquired by the Orange County Register detailed the gruesome condition of Bernstein's body and described odd behavior by suspect Samuel L. Woodward, 19, who was taken into custody three days earlier after DNA evidence linked blood found on his sleeping bag to Bernstein.

Orange County Dist. Atty.

Authorities arrested Woodward, described as a friend of Blaze Bernstein, in the killing of the 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania student found buried January 8, in a shallow grave at a park in Lake Forest, Calif. Undersheriff Don Barnes says DNA evidence links Woodward to the crime.

Blaze Bernstein 19 The Associated Press file
Blaze Bernstein 19 The Associated Press file

There is no obvious motive behind the incident and no weapon has been found. Woodward and Bernstein were classmates at the Orange County School of the Arts.

Blaze Bernstein was on winter break and visiting his parents in Lake Forest when they proudly explained that his namesake was Blaise Pascal, the 17-century child prodigy who went on to become a mathematician, inventor and master of prose.

Barnes says Woodward was the last person to see Bernstein alive. In the affidavit, the friend said he waited for an hour for Bernstein to return to the auto and then tried to reach him on Snapchat.

But Woodward could not remember his girlfriend's last name or where she lived, according to the affidavit.

Woodward was arrested Friday after crime lab technicians determined that blood found on a sleeping bag in his possession belonged to Bernstein, the Register learned.

In one online post, Woodward reportedly wrote "I wouldn't fight anybody unless they attacked me".

The affidavit also noted that Woodward told investigators that Bernstein kissed him on the lips at a stop before the park, and that he pushed Bernstein away.

His story, which Barnes said detectives found somewhat inconsistent, was that the cuts were from a "fight club" he was a part of and the dirt underneath his nails was from falling into a "dirty puddle". He continued, "How well they were friends in high school we do not know". He reportedly posted on social media about his love of the Bible and guns, while defending the Confederate Flag.

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