SANTA ANA – A friend of slain pre-med student Blaze Bernstein was arrested Friday afternoon in connection with the death of the University of Pennsylvania sophomore, whose body was found near a Foothill Ranch park on Tuesday, a week after the 19-year-old disappeared.
Samuel Woodward, 21, was taken into custody Friday shortly after leaving his home in Newport Beach, according to a source with knowledge of the case. Woodward had told homicide investigators that he drove Bernstein to Borrego Ranch Park on Jan. 2, the night Bernstein disappeared.
Around 1:15 p.m., two sheriff’s investigators brought the handcuffed man to the Orange County Jail. He had on a sweatshirt that read, “Keep the peace.”
The suspect and the arrested man had attended the Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana at the same time at one point.
“Finally,” Blaze Bernstein’s mother said on on Twitter. “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.”
Woodward appeared nervous while being interviewed by sheriff’s investigators, before the body had been found, saying Bernstein walked into the park after exiting the vehicle and he didn’t see him again, according to a search warrant affidavit obtained earlier this week by the Southern California News Group.
According to the affidavit, Woodward said he left the park, visited a girlfriend and went back to look for Bernstein hours later in the early morning. Woodward’s hands were scratched and had dirt on them one of the times he was interviewed by detectives, the document says. He told them the scratches and dirt came from participating in a fight club.
Woodward, according to the affidavit, said he did not remember his girlfriend’s last name or where she lived. While leaving the sheriff’s facility during an interview, he covered his hands with clothing before touching the door knobs, the affidavit says.
Officials say they will talk about the case later this afternoon with the media.
This story is developing.