Suspect Arrested in Murder of UPenn Student Blaze Bernstein

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He had not been answering calls and text messages, and he did not show up to his dentist appointment.

Until almost a week later.

His body was found in brush Tuesday after a search lasting almost a week.

The suspect: his classmate from high school.

Police identified the suspect as Samuel Woodward, 20, of nearby Newport Beach, the Orange County Register reported.

In a press conference held by the Orange County Sheriff's Department on January 12, authorities confirmed that the suspect taken into custody is Samuel Woodward, 20, who along with Bernstein, attended the Orange County School of the Arts, one of the top schools in the country to study creative writing. Woodward apparently told police he drove Bernstein to the park but did not get out of the auto with him and left when he didn't return.

After arriving at the park, Bernstein got out of the vehicle, but he never came back, Woodward said. He said he then left around 1 a.m. and drove to his girlfriend's house in Tustin and then returned to the park at about 3:40 a.m. after Bernstein still had not responded. He said he waited about an hour and tried to contact Bernstein on Snapchat.

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Woodward won't be in court until Tuesday, the district attorney said, adding that he was not at this point ready to say what charges will be filed against him.

On Jan. 4, two days after Bernstein disappeared, detectives spoke with Woodward again at Borrego Park and noticed that his hands had several small scratches and abrasions, according to the affidavit obtained by the Register. He said the scratches and abrasions were from a "fight club" that he was involved in. And as he was walking inside the sheriff's headquarters during an interview, he kept himself from touching the doors by pulling his jacket over his hand. Authorities say DNA evidence linked Woodward, who was the last person to see Bernstein alive, to the killing.

Bernstein's mother, Jeanne Pepper, responded to news of the arrest on Twitter, writing, "Finally". "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". Investigators also said they would not release details on the condition of Bernstein's body or what may have occurred at the park. Bernstein's father said he found these notes and sent them to the executive director, Wharton sophomore Rachel Prokupek, to use this coming year.

News of Woodward's arrest comes two days after Bernstein's identity was confirmed as the body found the day prior. According to the Register, they attended the Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana, California, together.

Investigators said they were working to determine a motive in the crime. Investigators also believe Bernstein's body had been in that shallow grave the whole time he was missing.

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

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