Chief: Ride sharing mistake led to the death of SC college student

This undated photo from the Columbia Police Department shows Nathaniel David Rowland. The police in South Carolina say they have arrested a suspect in connection with the death of a student. Columbia police chief Skip Holbrook said at a press conference that the 24-year-old Rowland was detained early Saturday, March 30, 2019, and that blood was found in his car. (Columbia Police via AP)

COLUMBIA, S. C. – The man accused of killing a woman who got into his car thinking it was her Uber ride had turned on the child locks in his back seat so that the doors can only be opened from the outside, the police in South Carolina say.

Columbia police chief Skip Holbrook said that the researchers found the victim’s blood in Nathaniel David Rowland’s vehicle. Rowland, 24, was arrested and charged in the death of 21-year-old Samantha Josephson of Robbinsville, New Jersey.

The researchers would not say what they think Rowland did Josephson from the moment she got into his black Chevrolet Impala in Columbia’s Five Points entertainment district around 1:30 pm, Friday until her body was dumped in the woods off a dirt road in Clarendon County, about 65 miles (105 km) away.

Josephson had many wounds to her head, neck, face, upper body, legs and feet, according to arrest warrants released Sunday by the State Law Enforcement Division. The documents do not say what was used to attack her.

Josephson’s blood was found in the truck and in Rowland’s car along with her cell phone, Holbrook said, along with bleach, glass cleaner and baby wipes.

“This was a bad scene,” the police chief said at a press conference at the end of the Saturday.

Hunters found Josephson’s body Friday afternoon-just hours after he was dumped, despite the fact that the left in an area that is “very hard to get, unless you knew how to get there,” Holbrook said.

Rowland has recently lived in the area, Holbrook said.

The night after Josephson was kidnapped, a Columbia officer saw a black Chevrolet Impala about two blocks from the Five Points bars where Josephson had been kidnapped. The driver ran, but was arrested after a short pursuit, Holbrook said.

Rowland is charged with the kidnapping and murder, Holbrook said. He was being held in the Richland County jail. It was not known whether he had a lawyer.

Safety advocates urged the students to match the vehicle colour and model, license tag number, and the photo of their ride share drivers for getting in a vehicle.

“She just, accidentally, got into the car thinking that it is a Uber ride,” Holbrook said.

The crime shook Columbia, the capital of the state where the University of South Carolina is one of the most important economic engines. Josephson was a student at the school.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and his wife, Peggy, prompted a message on Twitter for prayers for Josephson’s family.

“Peggy and I are devastated and broken about the Josephson family the loss of their beautiful daughter Samantha. She was one of the brightest, young stars,” McMaster wrote.


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