LAKE FOREST, Calif. (WPVI) —
A suspect has been arrested in the death of 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania student Blaze Bernstein, whose body was found this week at a Southern California park.
In a news conference on Friday, police identified the suspect as 20-year-old Samuel Lincoln Woodward of Newport Beach, California.
Woodward was arrested on suspicion of homicide.
Video from KABC-TV showed Woodward being taking into custody.
Police say they are still investigating the motive.
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Bernstein’s body was found Tuesday in the brush along the perimeter of Lake Forest’s Borrego Park after he had been missing for a week. Investigators said they are treating his death as a homicide.
A sheriff’s investigator earlier said that a friend of a Bernstein’s appeared nervous while speaking with authorities and had scratched up hands and dirt under his fingernails. It wasn’t known if the suspect is the same person.
The friend said he went with Bernstein to a neighborhood park in the city of Lake Forest on Jan. 2 to meet up with another friend but stayed in the car, the Orange County sheriff’s investigator wrote in the document. He said he left about an hour later when Bernstein did not return to the vehicle or respond on social media.
That was the last time Bernstein was reported to have been seen, authorities said. His body was found Tuesday in brush surrounding the park after days of searching by rescue teams, with assistance from drone pilots.
Bernstein’s death has rocked the tight-knit community 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles. Several hundred community members held a candlelight vigil Wednesday evening to remember the college sophomore, who had been home visiting his family on winter break.
In the affidavit, the investigator wrote that the friend said the scratches on his hands and dirty nails were from a “fight club” he was involved in.
The friend couldn’t remember the last name of the girlfriend he said he went to see later that night and avoided touching doors at the sheriff’s offices following an interview, the investigator wrote.
“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,” the newspaper quoted the affidavit as saying.
A spokeswoman for Orange County Superior Court said the document obtained by the newspaper was later placed under seal.
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