Samantha Josephson, a University of South Carolina student who was reported missing on Friday, was found dead, the university confirmed Saturday. Her friends said she went missing after getting into a car she allegedly mistook for an Uber.
"It is with the heaviest of hearts that I write these words this morning," UofSC president Harris Pastides wrote in a letter. "Our prayers are with the family and friends of Samantha Josephson following the devastating news of her death. Times like these leave me searching for words of wisdom and comfort. However, I take solace that the Carolina Family is here to embrace those who are hurting."
Pastides added, "It has been a difficult week for our extended Carolina family. The loss of a student is never easy but this has been a particularly painful few days as we have experienced loss on several of our campuses. As a family, let’s continue to pray for all the families experiencing heartache and grief this week."
Josephson's father, Seymour Josephson, also confirmed his daughter's death in a Facebook post.
On Friday, the Columbia, South Carolina police department tweeted a missing person alert for Josephson, reporting that she was last seen by friends at a bar between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. Friday. "Loved ones have not been able to make contact with her since. They’re worried about her well-being & safety," police said.
#CPDSCInvestigates | Missing Person Alert: 21-year-old Samantha Josephson was last seen by friends at 715 Harden St. b/w 1:30 & 2:00 this morning. Loved ones have not been able to make contact with her since. They’re worried about her well-being & safety. pic.twitter.com/PITpUh1eUh— Columbia Police Dept (@ColumbiaPDSC) March 30, 2019
Police also tweeted photos of her and a photo of the car she is believed to have gone into.
Cont’d: Here’s another picture of Josephson when she was last seen on Harden Street talking on the phone. Pay close attention to what she was wearing early this a.m. Call @MidlandsCrime at 1-888-CRIME-SC w/your helpful tips regarding her whereabouts. pic.twitter.com/PZSokgwFYN— Columbia Police Dept (@ColumbiaPDSC) March 30, 2019
Cont’d: Special Victims Unit investigators believe that shortly after 2:00 a.m., Josephson was seen getting into this newer model Chevy Impala along Harden Street. Family & friends have been trying to locate her ever since. Again, call @MidlandsCrime 1-888-CRIME-SC w/your tips. pic.twitter.com/3211Wjx6PK— Columbia Police Dept (@ColumbiaPDSC) March 30, 2019
During a press conference on Saturday, Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook said the case is now being handled as a homicide. The State Law Enforcement Division is charging Nathaniel David Rowland, 24, with kidnapping and murder in connection with her death, reports WIS.
Police said Josephson's body was discovered by two turnkey hunters in a wooded area in Clarendon County, where the suspect once lived.
At 3 a.m. Saturday, Rowland was stopped in a black Chevrolet Impala by a K-9 officer. After he left the car, Rowland tried to flee the scene, but was quickly arrested. An acquaintance of Rowland was in the car with him and is cooperating, police said.
Holbrook said police saw what appeared to be blood in the car. They obtained a search warrant for the vehicle and found more blood, Josephson's cell phone, bleach, wipes and window cleaner.
The investigation regarding USC student Samantha Josephson is now a homicide case. Her body was found by hunters in rural Clarendon Co. late yesterday afternoon. Suspect Nathaniel Rowland has been charged w/ Murder & Kidnapping by SLED. Agents have been an integral part in case. pic.twitter.com/2tj8TVRAex— Columbia Police Dept (@ColumbiaPDSC) March 30, 2019
Josephson's friends reported her missing after she did not return to her apartment Friday night. Police believe she was waiting for an Uber and got into the wrong car.
Josephson was from Robbinsville, New Jersey and a political science major at the University of South Carolina.
“I met with the family... their hearts are broken,” Holbrook said Saturday. “There is nothing tougher than to stand before a family and explain how a loved one was murdered they have a lot of support here, but it was gut-wrenching words can’t describe what they are going through.”
UofSC has made counseling services available to students on Sunday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Photo credit: Columbia Police Department