Blaze Bernstein, 19, was reported missing on Jan. 3rd after his family became concerned when he failed to show up for a dental appointment. Bernstein was visiting his parents in Lake Forest during winter break from the University of Pennsylvania.
Bernstein’s body was found on January 10th at the Borrego Park in the Foothill Ranch area. Heavy rains caused the runoff to expose parts of the remains, which were discovered in some brush on the outskirts of the park.
Detectives were able to identify Samuel Woodward, 20, through Bernstein’s Snapchat account. According to a document obtained by the Orange County Register, Woodward stated that he picked up Bernstein the night before he went missing. Woodward, a friend of Bernstein’s from the Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana, said he dropped Bernstein off at the park the night of Jan. 2. Woodward allegedly went to a girlfriend’s house in Tustin around 1am, but was unable to tell authorities the girl’s last name or where she lived.
Woodward stated that he went back to the park around 3:40am to pick up Bernstein, but wasn’t able to get ahold of him. When investigators met with Woodward two days after the disappearance, they noticed scratches on his hands and dirt under his fingernails. Woodward claimed they were from a “fight club” he was involved in.
According to Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes, DNA results led to the arrest of Woodward on suspicion of homicide on Friday, Jan.12th.
A law enforcement source told The Los Angeles Times that Bernstein was found with more than 20 stab wounds. And although authorities have not officially revealed a motive for the killing, this same source said Woodward claimed Bernstein kissed him.
Now Blaze Bernstein’s parents say it’s possible their son was a victim of a hate crime.
Woodward is scheduled to appear in court today.