Samuel Lincoln Woodward - who was taken into custody Friday for the slaying of University of Pennsylvania pre-med student Blaze Bernstein - posted to an undisclosed site that he believes the flag is a symbol of Southern pride, and not hate, KCAL9 reported. Sheriff's investigators said they believe Woodward picked up Bernstein on January 3, drove to multiple locations in the Foothill Ranch area, before arriving at Borrego Park where Bernstein disappeared.
It was unclear how well Woodward and Bernstein knew each other in high school, or the nature of their relationship, Barnes said. It's unclear why the suspect didn't check to see if Blaze made it home to his parent's house, who live around five minutes away from the park.
According to investigators, Woodward was interviewed in connection with the case and appeared nervous during the discussion, had scratched hands and dirt under his fingernails, and avoided touching doors with his hands while leaving the sheriff's building.
Bernstein's body was found Tuesday after recent rains partially exposed it.
During a press conference on Friday, a sheriff's spokesperson said that although Blaze's disappearance was initially treated as a missing persons case, the abundance of clues, information, and the ultimate discovery of the victim's body, found buried in a shallow grave on the south end of Borrego Park, turned it into a homicide case.
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Bernstein was picked up by a high school friend on January 2 and was heading to meet a third person in the park, Annee Della Donna, an attorney and friend of the family, told the newspaper. He said he waited about an hour and tried to contact Bernstein on Snapchat. Several hundred community members held a candlelight vigil Wednesday evening to remember the college sophomore, who had been home visiting his family on winter break. When Bernstein didn't return, Woodward said he left.
Bernstein's mother, Jeanne Pepper, responded to news of the arrest on Twitter, writing, "Finally". In the affidavit, the investigator wrote that the friend said the scratches on his hands and dirty nails were from a "fight club" he was involved in.
The 16-page warrant filed by a sheriff's investigator and obtained by Bernstein's friend was "breathing heavy, talking fast and visibly shaking". Inside the vehicle, officers found camping equipment, a black belt, and a large plastic bin inside.
He agreed to be further interviews at the sheriff's headquarters in Santa Ana, where his story "stayed fairly consistent". 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", her statement said, in part.