Suspect in California park stabbing says student was hitting on him

Blaze Bernstein

His body was discovered in a shallow grave in Borrego Park on January 9, a week after he went missing from the park. The pair reportedly attended the same high school.

A 20-year-old man who was arrested and charged with murdering his high school classmate, Blaze Bernstein, previously expressed violent viewpoints and defended the Confederate flag, according to a news report. Bernstein, home for winter break, disappeared late at night on January 2 and was found a week later in a shallow grave along the perimeter of Borrego Park in Lake Forest, near where his parents live. The Ivy League sophomore was home in California during his winter break.

Mr Woodward told police that on the night of Bernstein's disappearance, the two had arranged over Snapchat to "hang out" in the auto park of Hobby Lobby hardware store in Lake Forest - about 50 miles (80km) from Los Angeles.

Woodward also told investigators that Bernstein entered the park alone and then he waited for Bernstein for an hour before driving to meet with a girlfriend, the Register reported.

Bernstein's body was found after rain washed away soil on his grave in the park. However, Woodward could not remember his girlfriend's last name or where she lived, according to the affidavit.

When investigators noticed dirt under his fingernails, Woodward said he "fell into a dirt puddle" during a sparring session.

A 16-page search warrant affidavit obtained by the Orange County Register revealed multiple details that led authorities to identify Woodward as their primary suspect in Bernstein's death, including nervous behavior during a police interview and DNA evidence found on a sleeping bag in Woodward's vehicle.

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Woodward was arrested on suspicion of homicide after investigators received DNA test results that matched his blood to the scene.

Upon news of Samuel's arrest, a Twitter account from an account appearing to be the account of Blaze's mother, Jeanne Pepper, tweeted an emotional statement. "My thoughts are: Revenge is empty. It will never bring back my son", she wrote. 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 Blazes murder.

The death of Bernstein rocked the community of Lake Forest, 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles. Authorities have not said how or why he died, or if a weapon had been used.

Detectives also noted that Woodward avoided touching anything, pulling his jacket sleeves over his hands and fingers.

Woodward displayed an affinity for guns and right-wing politics, unnerving some of his classmates at the Orange County School of the Arts, in Santa Ana.

Investigators said in the affidavit that as he recounted that part of his story, Woodward clenched his jaw and his fists, saying "he wanted to tell Blaze to get off of him".

On the night that Bernstein went missing, according to the affidavit, he and Woodward parked outside a Hobby Lobby in Lake Forest.

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