Suspect charged with murder in college student's killing

Orange County Sheriff's Department shows 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania student Blaze Bernstein

A man accused of stabbing a 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania student almost two dozen times and then burying him in a grave at a California park reportedly told police his alleged victim made advances on him and kissed him on the lips.

The organization's executive director, Rick Zbur, said, in part, "We expect a thorough investigation into the claims that this was a hate-crime motivated by 'gay-panic.' We are horrified by the details emerging that this senseless act of violence may have been motivated by homophobic sentiments, and if this is in fact the case, we hope this hate crime is prosecuted at the full-extent of the law".

A family embraces outside the University Synagogue following the memorial service for Blaze Bernstein in Irvine on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018.

Bernstein, a 19-year-old freshman psychology student, disappeared January 2 after driving to Borrego Park in Lake Forest with Woodward.

A 16-page search warrant affidavit obtained by the Orange County Register revealed multiple details that led authorities to identify Woodward as their primary suspect in Bernstein's death, including and DNA evidence found on a sleeping bag in Woodward's auto.

Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, was arrested Friday on suspicion of homicide after DNA evidence linked him to the death of Blaze Bernstein, Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes said.

The 16-page affidavit suggested Woodward was known at his former high school for having conservative political beliefs and often made his love of the Bible and guns known through his social media posts, the Register reported.

Text messages reviewed by investigators indicated Bernstein had discussed his previous interaction with Woodward with friends, according to the Register.

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Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, in a Wednesday moring news conference, said sheriff's investigators were led to Woodward through "old-fashion detective work and surveillance", as well as a sophisticated examination of physical, digital and DNA evidence. Woodward was arrested after crime lab techs found Bernstein's blood on a sleeping bag in Woodward's possession, the Register said.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Blaze, a University of Pennsylvania student, was home for the holidays when he was killed.

"Our son was a handsome, gentle soul who we loved more than anything".

The couple added, "If it is determined that this was a hate crime, we will cry not only for our son, but for LGBTQ people everywhere that live in fear or who have been victims of hate crime".

Woodward, who was interviewed several times by investigators, said he drove Bernstein from Hobby Lobby to Borrego Park in the Foothill Ranch section of Lake Forest.

This undated photo provided by the Orange County Sheriff's Department shows Blaze Bernstein, 19, as they seek the public's help in finding him. Criminal charges against Woodward will be announced around 9 a.m. Woodward told investigators he wanted to call Bernstein a "faggot". Sam Woodward, left, was arrested as a suspect in his death. Woodward also had scratches and abrasions on his hands, which he attributed to a "fight club" in which he was involved.

The county's top prosecutor made a point of saying Woodward was 6-foot- 2 and weighed 185 pounds and Bernstein was 5-foot-8 and weighed 135 pounds.

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