Blaze Bernstein case: Suspect identified in University of Pennsylvania student's death

Last Updated Jan 12, 2018 8:05 PM EST

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- A suspect has been arrested in the death of Blaze Bernstein, a 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania student whose body was found at a California park, authorities said Friday. Orange County Sheriff's Department identified the suspect as 20-year-old Samuel Lincoln Woodward of Newport Beach.

Police said they arrested Woodward at 1:15 p.m. local time on Friday and said they believe Woodward picked up Bernstein at his home and drove to multiple locations before they arrived at Borrego Park on Jan. 2.

Woodward was interviewed by police, who described him as nervous and said he had scratched hands and dirt under his fingernails. Officials said Woodward became the primary suspect due to inconsistencies in his story. 


Blaze Bernstein has been missing since Tue., Jan. 2, 2018.

CBS Los Angeles

Search and rescue crews looked for Bernstein for several days, with assistance from drone pilots. Bernstein's body was found Tuesday in a shallow grave in the brush surrounding the park, police said. The department is waiting on autopsy results to confirm the cause of Bernstein's death and said they would not be sharing details on the condition of the body. 

CBS Los Angeles captured video of the suspect in handcuffs as he was escorted by investigators on Friday afternoon. Police have not identified a motive and said it was still under investigation.

Bernstein's death rocked the tight-knit community 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Hundreds held a candlelight vigil to remember him. 

It is the only homicide reported in Lake Forest in at least four years, according to authorities.

Bernstein attended the Orange County High School of the Arts for creative writing. He was recently chosen to edit a culinary magazine on campus.