OC District Attorney Tony Rackauckas: ‘This is a senseless murder’
Authorities found 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein stabbed and buried in a shallow grave at a California park on 9 January.
Bernstein went missing 2 January after his parents noticed he failed to show for a scheduled dentist appointment.
After an eight day search, authorities found his body at Orange County’s Borrego Park.
Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, of Newport Beach was arrested on Friday (12 January) in relation to the crime. Prosecutors filed one felony count of murder against him yesterday (17 January).
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said in a news conference: ‘There are a a few facts that we’re able to release at this time.
‘The suspect knew Blaze, the victim, from when they went to school at Orange County School of the Arts,’ he said.
‘This is a senseless murder’
He explains Woodward is six feet two inches tall and weighs 185 pounds. Blaze was five feet eight inches tall and weighed 135 pounds.
Former classmate of 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein was charged today with murdering the victim and burying his body in a shallow grave in Borrego Park in Lake Forest.
More information in our news release 👉🏽 https://t.co/ii3HSzrB7U pic.twitter.com/IBqiK4u3e0
— Tony Rackauckas (@OCDATony) January 17, 2018
Woodward stands accused of communicating with Blaze through Snapchat on 2 January and picking the teen up in his car.
According to a 16-page affidavit, Woodward told investigators Bernstein kissed him on the lips while the two were sitting in a parked car.
Woodward said the kiss was unwanted and that he pushed Bernstein away. He also told investigators he wanted to call Bernstein a ‘faggot.’
Woodward claims he dropped Blaze off at the park and went to a girlfriend’s house, who he cannot provide the details of.
Rackauckas said: ‘The exact time and place of the murder is still under investigation.’
Woodward is also accused of having abrasions, scratches and dirt on his hands and cleaning up the car after the night he picked up Blaze.
Rackauckas said: ‘This is a senseless murder. We offer our sincerest condolences to the Bernstein family.
‘I know he was treasured by his family and loved by his friends,’ he added.
Geideon and Jeanne Bernstein, Blaze’s parents, told the LA Times: ‘There is nothing worse than losing him.
‘If we can change this from a moment to a movement of people doing good… that’s part of our healing process,’ Gildeon added.
The investigation is ongoing. If convicted, Woodward could face 26 years to life in state prison.