A suspect has been identified in the disappearance and murder of Samantha Josephson, a 21-year-old University of South Carolina student who was kidnapped after she got separated from her friends during a night out in Columbia.
Police say that Josephson accidentally got into a car that she thought was an Uber, but it turns out that it was a stranger who could not be trusted. For nearly a day, the entire city was searching for the girl, hoping to find her alive. Pictures of her face and of the car that took her away that evening were all over the news and social media. Unfortunately, the tragedy had already occurred.
ATTENTION COLUMBIA!! Samantha Josephson was last seen getting inside a black newer Chevy Impala around 2:12 am…
Posted by Edgar Castro on Friday, March 29, 2019
During a press conference, Columbia Police Chief W.H. “Skip” Holbrook said that turkey hunters found her body in a field 90 miles from Columbia 14 hours later.
“What we know now is that she had, in fact, summoned an Uber ride and was waiting for that Uber ride to come. We believe that she simply mistakenly got into this particular car thinking it was an Uber ride,” Holbrook explained.
The police had security camera footage and were luckily able to track down the driver of the car, 24-year-old Nathaniel David Rowland. Police were able to find enough evidence connecting Rowland to the crime to charge him with murder and kidnapping.
“Our hearts are broken, they’re broken. There is nothing tougher than to stand before a family and explain how a loved one was murdered. It was gut-wrenching, words really can’t describe what they’re going through,” Holbrook said.
“Our investigators and agents have a lot more work to do,” Holbrook added.
Rowland was reportedly stopped by an officer on the road who recognized the vehicle from department briefings. Police found blood in the car and other evidence connecting him to the crime, including the victim’s cellphone. It appeared that Rowland attempted to cover up his tracks by pouring bleach throughout the inside of the vehicle. Blood was also found in the trunk of the vehicle, and there were clear signs of both a struggle and a cover-up.
CNN reported that, “Police searched for the car Josephson had gotten into and around 3 a.m. Saturday a Columbia officer saw the Impala and stopped the vehicle, Holbrook said. When the officer asked the driver to get out the car, he ran but was quickly captured, the chief said. Investigators searched the Impala. Blood found in the car’s passenger side and trunk was matched to Josephson’s, the chief said, and her cell phone was found in the passenger compartment. Investigators also found a container of liquid bleach, germicidal wipes and window cleaner in the vehicle. Holbrook also said the child safety locks in the Impala were activated, which would make it difficult for anyone to open the back doors from the inside.”
In a post to Facebook over the weekend, Josephson’s father, Seymour Josephson made a short statement about the death of his daughter.
“It is with tremendous sadness and of a broken heart that I post this! I will miss and love my baby girl for the rest of life. Samantha is no longer with us but she will not be for gotten (sic). It is extremely hard to write this and post it but I love her with all my heart. I could continue to write about her but it kills me. I sit here and cry while looking at the picture and write this,” his statement read.
USC President Harris Pastides made a statement after the body was found, saying that, “It is with the heaviest of hearts that I write these words this morning. Our prayers are with the family and friends of Samantha Josephson following the devastating news of her death. Times like these leave me searching for words of wisdom and comfort. However, I take solace that the Carolina Family is here to embrace those who are hurting. The loss of a student is never easy but this has been a particularly painful few days as we have experienced loss on several of our campuses. As a family, let’s continue to pray for all the families experiencing heartache and grief this week.”
No indication of a motive or any other information about the suspect has been released by police.