Authorities arrest suspect in death of Penn student

Lester Mason
January 13, 2018

Authorities announced Friday that a suspect was arrested in connection to the death of University of Pennsylvania student Blake Bernstein.

The suspect's name was not immediately released, but the Orange County Register identified him as 21-year- old Sam Woodward, a friend of Blaze Bernstein's who had allegedly driven him to Borrego Park around 11 p.m. January 2.

A news conference was slated for 4 p.m. local time (7 p.m. EST) by the sheriff's department to discuss the case.

Bernstein met with a friend last Tuesday and the two drove to Borrego Park, witnesses told the sheriff's department, according to ABC News. He had gone missing in the park on January 2, sparking a week-long search for him in and near the park.

Investigators said they were working to determine a motive in the crime.

The 19-year-old was home for winter break from his sophomore year at the University of Pennsylvania.

Thursday afternoon, almost 30 students, faculty, and administrators gathered at Penn's Houston Hall to honor Bernstein.

On Thursday, a search warrant indicated that the friend, who was not identified, appeared visibly shaken while being interviewed by detectives.

According to a search warrant affidavit obtained by the Register, Woodward told sheriff's investigators he drove Bernstein to the park, who got out and walked away.

Detectives noted the friend had dirt under his fingernails during the interview, to which he claimed was caused by a fall.

"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 affidavit stated, according to the report.

The University of Pennsylvania student was last seen entering Borrego Park at about 11 p.m. on January 2 by Woodward, who was with him at the time. Woodward had told homicide investigators that he drove Bernstein to Borrego Ranch Park on January 2, the night Bernstein disappeared. Woodward apparently told police he drove Bernstein to the park but did not get out of the vehicle with him and left when he didn't return. The friend said he left the park an hour after meeting up with the victim to visit his girlfriend in Tustin, but he could not recall her last name or address. Officials also saw that the friend had several cuts and scratches, but he claimed it stemmed from a "fight club" activity.

The friend was interviewed by police, who described him as nervous and said he had scratched hands and dirt under his fingernails.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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