Parents of Missing Student Found Dead Tearfully Mourn Son: 'Our Family Is Devastated'

The parents of a University of Pennsylvania student found dead have spoken out in an emotional statement, saying that their son "shined light" on everyone around him.

After identifying their 19-year-old son's body, Gideon Bernstein and Jeanne Pepper addressed their son Blaze Bernstein's death and thanked those who helped find him and those who have supported them throughout their ordeal, PEOPLE reports.

"Blaze was a brilliant, colorful, and charismatic man who shined light on all of the lives of the people and communities he touched. Needless to say, our family is devastated by the news," Gideon and Pepper said during a press conference in Lake Forest, California Wednesday. "We want to thank all of you who so generously gave of your hearts, time, and energy to help us in the search for Blaze over this past week…Our family sends you all of our endless love and thanks for what you have done…We ask that you, like my father would've done for me, do something that can perpetuate Blaze's memory, this young, bright soul."

Bernstein, a pre-med student, was reported missing on Jan. 3 after he failed to show up for a dental appointment. Following heavy rainfall in Southern California, the 19-year-old's body was discovered in Borrego Park.

Investigators had learned that Bernstein had gone to the park with a friend on the night of Jan. 2nd, but the two had somehow become separated. The friend told investigators that he had last seen Bernstein walking in the direction of Whiting Ranch Park, though it is unclear if he was intending on meeting someone.


Authorities have not yet released Bernstein's cause of death, but they have concluded that it was a homicide. An autopsy was set to be performed Wednesday.