Murdered For Sharing Fact That They Kissed
A Southern California college student is dead because another thought he was hitting on him.
19-year-old Blaze Bernstein was reported missing by his family on January 3. The University of Pennsylvania student was visiting his Lake Forest, California home for the holidays. After Bernstein failed to show up to a dentist appointment and some personal items, like his wallet and his glasses, were discovered still being in his room, his family started to worry.
Unfortunately, Bernstein’s body was found at Borrego Parka a week later on January 10 with 20 stab wounds.
“We are saddened to hear, on the day we laid our son to rest, that gruesome details of the cause of his death were published,” Blaze’s parents, Gideon and Jeanne Pepper Bernstein, wrote. “Our son was a beautiful gentle soul who we loved more than anything. We were proud of everything he did and who he was. He had nothing to hide. We are in solidarity with our son and the LGBTQ community.”
“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 [a] hate crime,” they continued.
As for the culprit, police believe it was 20-year-old Samuel Woodward, who knew Bernstein from their high school days at the Orange County School of the Arts.
Woodward’s arrest on this past Friday was based on DNA evidence found between the crime scene and Woodward’s car.
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As CBS News reports:
“According to a 16-page search warrant affidavit obtained by The Orange County Register, text messages sent by Bernstein suggested he may have been planning to sexually pursue Woodward.
Bernstein texted two female friends about a June interaction with Woodward, according to the affidavit. Bernstein wrote that Woodward was about to ‘hit on me’ and ‘he made me promise not to tell anyone … but I have texted everyone, uh oh.”
Police records also show that Woodward admits that Bernstein kissed him the night of his disappearance before being pushed away.
Despite admitting that, the search warrant affidavit also says that Woodward “could not recall” the last name of his girlfriend or the address that she lived at (where he supposedly went after dropping Bernstein off).
In addition, Woodward was found with scrapes and scratches on his hands and dirt under his fingernails. When police asked about this, Woodward said he belonged to a fight club and he’d recently fell into a dirt puddle.
Despite what we may think or how want to point fingers, Woodward is still innocent until proven guilty. That said, he was officially charged on Wednesday (Jan 17) with for the murder of Bernstein. On top of that, he might have a possible enhancement to his charge for personal use of a knife.
If convicted, he could face up 26 years to life in prison.