Samantha Josephson’s family confirmed her death on social media.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina – Samantha Josephson decided to call an Uber around 2 a.m. Friday after being separated from her roommates during a night out in Columbia, South Carolina, police said Saturday.
The 21-year-old University of South Carolina senior hopped into a black Chevy Impala, thinking it was her ride, Columbia Police Chief W.H. “Skip” Holbrook said during a news conference.
About 14 hours later, turkey hunters found her body in a field 90 miles from Columbia, he said.
“What we know now is that she had, in fact, summoned an Uber ride and was waiting for that Uber ride to come,” Holbrook said, citing surveillance footage. “We believe that she simply mistakenly got into this particular car thinking it was an Uber ride.”
Nathaniel David Rowland, 24, has been arrested on charges of murder and kidnapping in connection with Josephson’s death, Holbrook said. He is being held in jail in Columbia.
CNN has not determined if he has a lawyer yet.
Holbrook said he spoke with Josephson’s family prior to the press conference.
“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,” he said. “It was gut wrenching, words really can’t describe what they’re going through.”
Chief says student’s blood found in suspect’s car
Holbrook described how the case came together quickly.
Josephson’s roommates began to worry when they hadn’t heard from her later Friday morning. Holbrook said, and they called the police around 1:30 p.m. Friday.
While Columbia police were starting their investigation, turkey hunters found a body around 4 p.m. Friday about 40 feet off a dirt road in a wooded area in Clarendon County, southeast of Columbia, Holbrook said. It was identified as Josephson’s.
Police searched for the car Josephson had gotten into and around 3 a.m. Saturday a Columbia officer saw the Impala and stopped the vehicle, Holbrook said. When the officer asked the driver to get out the car, he ran but was quickly captured, the chief said.
Investigators searched the Impala.
Blood found in the car’s passenger side and trunk was matched to Josephson’s, the chief said, and her cell phone was found in the passenger compartment. Investigators also found a container of liquid bleach, germicidal wipes and window cleaner in the vehicle, he said.
Holbrook also said the child safety locks in the Impala were activated, which would make it difficult for anyone to open the back doors from the inside.
Police haven’t said how Josephson died and have not provided much information about Rowland, except to say he used to live in Clarendon County and knew the area where the body was found.
“Our investigators and agents have a lot more work to do,” Holbrook said.
CNN reached out to Uber Saturday, but the company declined to comment. Uber’s online safety tips advise drivers to check that the license plate, driver photo and driver name match what’s listed in the app before getting in the car.
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