COLUMBIA, S.C. – Surveillance video appears to show a University of South Carolina student climbing into the vehicle of her accused killer, believing it was the rideshare vehicle she had called for minutes earlier.
The video shows Samantha Josephson, 21, on her phone and standing near a crowd gathered outside a bar in Columbia’s Points entertainment district at about 2 a.m. Friday. The car rolls up and Josephson skips a few steps to the street and immediately climbs into the back seat of the 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.”
Josephson’s body was found the next day by turkey hunters in a wooded area more than 60 miles away. The driver that police say picked Josephson up, Nathaniel Rowland, was found with his car early Saturday morning.
Holbrook said blood found in the car matched Josephson’s blood. He also said the child safety locks were engaged, meaning Josephson would have been unable to flee once she realized her mistake.
Rowland, 24, was being held on charges of murder and kidnapping. At a hearing Sunday, Josephson’s mother spoke of the pain her family was enduring.
“There are no words to describe the incredible pain he’s caused,” Marci Josephson said of the suspect. “Samantha was bubbly, loving, kind and full of life. He’s taken away a piece of our heart.”
Josephson was set to graduate in May and planned on attending law school at Drexel University in Philadelphia in the fall. About 500 people gathered Sunday night for vigil to honor her life.
Several friends and loved ones, including her father, Seymour Josephson, remembered an energetic young woman who loved her friends and family and skillfully balanced her social life with her studies.
Seymour Josephson said he wants others to learn from what happened to his daughter and be more careful using ride-sharing services. And he said he wants to see those services improve safety for clients.
“I don’t want anyone else to go through this again,” he said. “What we learned is … you guys have to travel together. If there’s two of you, something is less likely to happen. Samantha was by herself – she had absolutely no chance. None.”
Services for Josephson are set for Wednesday in her native New Jersey. A $5,000 gofundme campaign to raise funds for funeral and other expenses, had raised almost $50,000 in pledges Monday.
Bacon reported from McLean, Va.