Investigators say a former friend and classmate of a University of Pennsylvania student found dead in a California park has been arrested in connection with his murder. Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, of Newport Beach was arrested for the murder of Blaze Bernstein, whose body was found in a shallow grave on Wednesday after heavy rains revealed it.
Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes says DNA and inconsistent statements made by Woodward are what led them to the suspect.
"Based on inconsistencies in the story of the friend, our investigators focused on this individual as a person of interest," Barnes told reporters on Friday.
Bernstein had been home for winter break visiting his family in Lake Forest. According to authorities, Bernstein and Woodward had connected on Snapchat.
Investigators noted that during an initial interview with Woodward, the former friend seemed nervous and had scratches on his hands and dirt under his fingernails.
Barnes said pair met up on Jan. 2nd, the day Bernstein went missing.
"Our investigators believe Woodward picked up Blaze at his residence at Foothill Ranch the evening of January 2nd, and that they drove to multiple locations in Foothill Ranch before arriving at Borrego Park."
Detectives found Bernstein's body in a shallow grave a week later.
"After multiple search warrants, hundreds of hours of investigation, and multiple interviews, our investigators have identified a suspect in this case and we have brought him into custody."
Barnes says they don't have a motive for the killing, and the pair's relationship was still under investigation.
"They did go to the same high school," Barnes confirmed. "The manner of which their friendship or relationship we do not know."
Bernstein's mother, tweeted after finding out her son's alleged killer had been arrested.
Finally. My thoughts are: Revenge is empty. It will never bring back my son. My only hopes are that he will never have the opportunity to hurt anyone else again and that something meaningful can come from the senseless act of Blaze's murder. Now Do Good for Blaze Bernstein