USC student, 21, murdered after she got into a car thinking it was her Uber
Security footage that was obtained shows that Samantha got into the black Chevy Impala at around 2 am on Friday when she was leaving after a night out with a group of friends
A man has been arrested for the kidnapping and murder of a student who got into his car thinking it was her Uber. The 21-year-old victim, Samantha Josephson, went missing in Columbia, South Carolina, early on Friday. Later that day her body was found by turkey hunters in a rural spot in nearby Claredon County.
Hours later 24-year-old Nathaniel David Rowland was arrested after being pulled over by officers for driving the same car she was last seen in. Columbia police stopped him at 3 am on Saturday, two blocks from the Five Points area from where Samantha had gone missing. Police say Rowland tried to flee the scene on foot but was caught.
Samantha's blood and her cell phone were found in the black Chevy Impala, along with bleach, wet wipes, and germicide, according to police reports. Police say the suspect previously lived in the area where Samantha's body was found.
They said there was a child safety seat in the back of the car and child safety locks were enabled meaning she would not have been able to escape.
Security footage that was obtained shows that Samantha got into the black Chevy Impala at around 2 am on Friday when she was leaving after a night out with a group of friends in the Five Points area.
A witness told the Daily Gamecock student newspaper that she had left the bar alone after spotting the car which she and her friends believed was an Uber. When Samantha's actual Uber driver arrived moments later, the driver canceled the ride when she didn't show up for the pick-up, witnesses said.
Surveillance images released by the Columbia Police Department also show the final image of Samantha before she disappeared. She is seen wearing an orange shirt and black pants, and talking on the phone. When Samantha's friends and family were unable to get in touch with her, an urgent search was launched.
Columbia Police Department Chief Skip Holbrook said in a news conference on Saturday; "She had, in fact, summoned an Uber ride. She was waiting for that Uber ride to come, we believe. She simply mistakenly got into this car thinking it was an Uber ride. Our hearts are broken, they're broken. There is nothing tougher than to stand before a family and explain how a loved one was murdered. It was gut-wrenching, words really can't describe what they're going through."
Holbrook did not take questions and did not elaborate on a motive or how Samantha died.
Samantha's father, in her hometown of Robbinsville, New Jersey, also confirmed her passing away in a Facebook post. "I will miss and love my baby girl for the rest of life. Samantha is no longer with us but she will not be forgotten," wrote Seymour Josephson, a sales manager with a technology company.
"It is extremely hard to write this and post it but I love her with all my heart. I could continue to write about her but it kills me. I sit here and cry while looking at the picture and write this," Seymour shared.
The mayor of Robbinsville, a township of 13,000 near Trenton, posted condolences, writing; "Our thoughts, prayers, boundless grief and endless support are with Seymour, Marci, and Sydney at this unimaginable time."