COLUMBIA, S.C. – A vigil Sunday night will honor the University of South Carolina student who authorities say was murdered after mistaking her killer’s car for an Uber and then was trapped in the back seat with child safety locks.
Nathaniel David Rowland, 24, faced murder and kidnapping charges in the death of Samantha Josephson, 21. A bond hearing was scheduled for Sunday.
Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook said Josephson, a senior who planned on attending law school, was standing near the Bird Dog bar in the city’s Five Points entertainment district at about 2 a.m. Friday when Rowland rolled up in his Chevy Impala.
“She had, in fact, summoned an Uber ride,” Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook said. “She simply mistakenly got into this car thinking it was an Uber.”
Friends of Josephson filed a missing persons report that afternoon when she did not return to The Hub, an apartment complex in Columbia where she lived with friends and was not reachable on her cellphone.
Less than three hours later, Clarendon County sheriff’s deputies responded to a report that turkey hunters had found a body in a rural area 65 miles from where Josephson was last seen. The body was located in area known to Rowland, a place where he recently resided, Holbrook said.
Arrest warrants indicated Josephson suffered wounds to much of her body, including her head and neck.
“Our hearts are broken,” Holbrook said. “There is nothing tougher than to stand before a family and explain how a loved one was murdered.”
Police publicized details of the suspected vehicle at about the same time the body was found, Holbrook said. Around 3 a.m. Saturday, a Columbia canine officer stopped a black Chevy Impala two blocks from the Five Points area, Holbrook said.
The driver briefly fled on foot before being chased down and was taken into custody. Holbrook said Josephson’s phone was found in the car, along with “a lot of blood,” bleach and other cleaning supplies.
The vehicle’s child locks were activated, which would have prevented escape, Holbrook said.
University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides offered condolences to her loved ones. He also pleaded with students to be careful.
“Look out for one another, be active bystanders,” he said. “Travel in groups and stay together.”
A gofundme campaign for funeral and memorial costs, with a goal of $5,000, had drawn more than $35,000 in pledges Sunday. Josephson’s father, Seymour Josephson, posted a note on Facebook with details for her funeral Wednesday in her native New Jersey.
“I will miss and love my baby girl for the rest of life,” he said. “Samantha is no longer with us but she will not be forgotten.”
Bacon reported from McLean, Va. Contributing: Donna Isbell Walker and Mollie R. Simon, The Greenville News