Authorities arrested Woodward, described as a friend of Blaze Bernstein, in the killing of the 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania student found buried January 8, in a shallow grave at a park in Lake Forest, Calif. Undersheriff Don Barnes says DNA evidence links Woodward to the crime.
The suspected killer of a University of Pennsylvania student was charged Wednesday with stabbing him to death, prosecutors said. Woodward is accused of providing a false explanation about the injuries on his hands. After questioning, authorities kept Woodward under surveillance for two days while they tested DNA evidence.
"We're going to bring the maximum charges that we can bring based on the evidence", the prosecutor said.
"There is still much discovery to be done and 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 hate crime", Bernstein's family said in a statement earlier this week. When asked by detectives about abrasions he had on his hands, as well as his dirty fingernails, Woodward reportedly said they were the result of a "fight club" with which he was involved. He said he returned to the park hours later to look for Bernstein.
This Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 booking photo provided by the Orange County, Calif., Sheriff's Department shows Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20.
The Orange County district attorney is expected to announce charges Wednesday against the former classmate suspected of killing 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein, whose body was found in a shallow grave in Borrego Park a week after he was reported missing by his parents.
He declined to elaborate on Woodward's motive or if the 20-year-old had confessed.
Woodward and Bernstein attended Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana, though it is unclear whether they were friends at the time.
Authorities say Bernstein was visiting his parents during winter break when he went to a park with Woodward Jan. 2.
In comments to investigators included in the affidavit, Woodward said Bernstein had unsuccessfully made romantic advances toward him multiple times, including on the night Bernstein disappeared. Investigators noted that Woodward clenched his jaw and fists while recounting the kiss.
On Jan. 15, the Orange County Register reported that Bernstein was stabbed over 20 times in what authorities suggest was "an act of rage".
The affidavit has since been sealed and NBC News has not been able to verify the reports. In the meantime he'll remain jailed without bail.
Woodward appeared in court for arraignment but it was postponed to February 2 and no plea was entered.
"Our son was a lovely, gentle soul who we loved more than anything", Gideon Bernstein and Jeanne Pepper Bernstein wrote in a blog posting. They marveled at the support they've received, which included people calling asking how they can help and celebrities including National Basketball Association great Kobe Bryant who posted on social media in an effort to find the young man when he was missing. In text conversations made in June, according to the affidavit, Bernstein told two female friends about his interaction with Woodward.
The hashtag #DoGoodForBlaze encourages people to help one another in their son's memory.