Previously, we reported on the story of Blaze Bernstein, a college student whose body turned up in a California park a few days after his disappearance. A suspect is now in custody and officials have released more details on the case.
Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, has been arrested on suspicion of homicide in the death of Blaze Bernstein, 19.
As you may recall from our original report, Bernstein was driven by a friend to Borrego Park on January 2, 2018 at approximately 10:30 p.m. We now know that the friend in question was Woodward.
Initially, Woodward claimed that Bernstein vanished after walking farther into the park. He told police that he waited for Bernstein but when he failed to return, Woodward left to go to a girlfriend’s house.
Upon further questioning, Woodward couldn’t recall the girlfriend’s address or name. Woodward also claimed that the scratches and dirt on his hands were the result of falling in a puddle while participating in a local “fight club.”
He said that Bernstein had kissed him on the lips on the night of Bernstein’s disappearance. Woodward followed this by saying that he had pushed Bernstein away; according to police records, Woodward was visibly tense while making this statement.
Ultimately, while Woodward’s ever-changing story made him a suspect, it was DNA evidence that got him arrested. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department found Blaze Bernstein’s blood on a sleeping bag in Woodward’s possession.
No motive has been released by police, but a court document indicated that Woodward was known in high school for holding considerably conservative views. It’s being speculated that he may have become enraged when Bernstein kissed him.
No official cause of death has been released, but The Orange County Register has reported that Bernstein was stabbed more than 20 times.
If you have any information relevant to this investigation, you are urged to contact the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at (714) 647-7000. You can also send an anonymous tip to Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS.