COLUMBIA, S.C.(WLTX) — Columbia police say a man kidnapped and killed a University of South Carolina student who mistakenly got into his car thinking it was her Uber ride.
Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook announced that 24-year-old Nathaniel David Rowland is charged with murder in the death of 21-year-old Samantha Josephson.
"Our hearts our broken," Holbrook said. "There is nothing harder than to stand before a family and explain how their loved one was murdered."
Holbrook said Josephson, a senior political science major from New Jersey, had been hanging out with friends between 1:30 and 2 a.m. Friday morning at The Bird Dog at 715 Harden Street in Five Points. She somehow got separated from her friends, and decided to get an Uber ride through her phone.
Holbrook said she saw a black Chevy Impala pull up to the curb, thought it was her ride, and at 2:09 a.m., got into the back of the vehicle. However, Holbrook said that was not the car she was waiting for.
Hours later, her roommates, who all lived with her at The Hub high-rise in downtown Columbia, got concerned about where she was. At 1:30 p.m. Friday, they called police after all their efforts to reach her failed.
Outpouring of support for missing USC student who died
Officers began their investigation, and say around 3:45 p.m., they got a call from the Clarendon County Sheriff's Office that hunters had found a body in a wooded area off a dirt road. That's roughly 70 miles from where she went missing.
Holbrook said Rowland had lived in the area, and was familiar with where the body was discovered.
Forensics investigators were able to confirm that the body found was Josephson.
Around 3 a.m. Saturday morning, a K-9 officer found a black Impala about two blocks from in Five Points. His partner pulled over the car, but the driver, Rowland, got out and ran. The officer chased after him and was able to take him into custody.
Holbrook said Josephson's blood was found in the vehicle, and child proof locks were on the back-seat doors, which would have prevented anyone from getting out. Her cell phone was found in the passenger compartment, as well as wipes and cleaner.
The chief did not take questions, and did not reveal how he killed the student.
He said many members of Josephson's family have come to Columbia. He said prior to his briefing with the media, he gave them all the details he had at this point.
"It was gut-wrenching," the chief said.
Rowland is now being held at the Richland County jail.
COLUMBIA, S.C.(WLTX) — Samantha Josephson, a University of South Carolina student who was reported missing Friday, has died, the university confirms.
According to our CBS affiliate WLTX 19, School President Harris Pastides delivered the news in a statement Saturday morning:
"Dear Carolina Family,
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.
As you make plans for the weekend, remember the tenets of Stand Up Carolina: look out for one another, be active bystanders. Travel in groups and stay together. If you have not already done so, download the RAVE Guardian safety app, set up your profile and learn how to use it.
It has been a difficult week for our extended Carolina family. 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."
So far, Columbia Police have not given an official statement about her death, and what may have led up to it. It's also unclear if there are any arrests in the case.
Columbia police say they will speak at a news conference later in the day Saturday regarding the investigation.
Josephson was last seen by friends between 1:30 and 2 a.m. Friday morning at The Bird Dog at 715 Harden Street in Five Points. She never returned to her downtown residence and repeated calls went unanswered. That's when her friends contacted police, according to a report.
Josephson was seen on surveillance video getting into a dark-colored car, possibly a newer model Chevy Impala, around 2 a.m. News19 is aware of a viral video of surveillance that claims to show the young woman get in the vehicle. However, at this time, we have been unable to authenticate that it shows the night in question or Josephson.