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Report: Death of Penn Student Investigated as Act of Rage

Image: Report: Death of Penn Student Investigated as Act of Rage
Gideon and Jeanne Bernstein, parents of missing teen Blaze Bernstein, pictured at left, are joined by Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Brad Valentine, right, during a news conference in Lake Forest, California on Jan. 10, 2018. (AP Photo by Amy Taxin, file)

Tuesday, 16 January 2018 08:50 AM

The death of a 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania student who was stabbed nearly two dozen times and whose body was found buried in a shallow grave at a California park is being investigated as an act of rage, a newspaper reported.

The Orange County Register reported Blaze Bernstein was stabbed more than 20 times. No weapon has been found.

Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, was arrested and taken into custody Friday on suspicion of homicide after DNA evidence linked him to the death of, Bernstein, a college sophomore, Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes said.

Carrie Braun, a public information officer for the Orange County Sheriff's Department, would not confirm to The Associated Press if Bernstein was stabbed, but said "the condition of the body at the time it was discovered turned it from a missing person to a homicide immediately."

Bernstein may have been planning to sexually pursue Woodward, according to a 16-page search warrant affidavit obtained by The Orange County Register.

Bernstein texted two female friends about a June interaction with Woodward, according to the affidavit. Bernstein wrote that Woodward was about to "hit on me" and "he made me promise not to tell anyone."

Bernstein was home visiting his family in Lake Forest during winter break when Woodward picked him up on Jan. 2 and drove with him to several places before winding up at a park.

The two knew each other from high school, Barnes said.

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.

Investigators said in the affidavit that as he recounted that part of his story, Woodward clenched his jaw and his fists, saying "he wanted to tell Blaze to get off of him."

Woodward was interviewed by investigators after Bernstein was reported missing by his parents on Jan. 3.

A sheriff's investigator wrote in court filings that Woodward appeared nervous, had scratched hands and dirt under his fingernails, and avoided touching doors with his hands while leaving the sheriff's office building.

Woodward also told investigators that Bernstein entered the park alone and then he waited for Bernstein for an hour before driving to meet with a girlfriend, the Register reported. However, according to the affidavit, Woodward could not remember his girlfriend's last name or where she lived.

It was not immediately possible to reach Woodward in custody, where he listed his occupation as "Nerf games," according to the jail's website.

Authorities searched for Bernstein for nearly a week with assistance from drone pilots and found his body on Tuesday after recent rains partially exposed it.

The death of Bernstein rocked the community of Lake Forest, 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles. Hundreds of people held a candlelight vigil to remember him.

It was the only homicide reported in Lake Forest in at least the past four years, according to authorities.

This story has been corrected to show that while The Orange County Register reported Bernstein was stabbed, the manner of death has not been confirmed by officials.

© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

   
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The death of a 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania student who was stabbed nearly two dozen times and whose body was found buried in a shallow grave at a California park is being investigated as an act of rage...
student, death, stabbing, penn
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2018-50-16
Tuesday, 16 January 2018 08:50 AM
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