Josephson went missing on Thursday while out a bar with friends. The 21-year-old college student was whisked away without a word. Although her friends and family sprang into action before long, it was already too late.
The tragedy has the community, and the country shocked and confused, as everyone tries to make sense of the seemingly senseless and random crime. Now, in addition to mourning alongside the family, some are looking to lawmakers, rideshare services and mental health facilities to see how things like this could be prevented in the future.
Perhaps the only silver lining to Josephson's story is that police found and charged a suspect relatively quickly. Here is everything we know so far about the murder of Samantha Josephson.
Josephson disappeared in the early morning hours of Friday, March 29. She had spent Thursday night out at the Bird Dog Bar in Columbia, South Carolina, according to a report by CBS News.
Security footage from the bar shows Josephson waiting outside at 2:09 a.m. Police assume she was waiting for an Uber or other rideshare driver that she had called. When a black Chevy Impala pulled up, she climbed in without hesitation.
Josephson was not seen after that. The following day, her friends and roommates were unable to contact her, so they called the police. They made a missing person report at around 1:30 p.m. on Friday.
"It sickens us to think that his face was the last thing that my baby girl saw on this earth. My daughter's name is Samantha Josephson. Don't ever forget her name. Samantha Josephson. Shame on him." https://t.co/GAAN9QPYI0 pic.twitter.com/S0YjPIanOp— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) April 2, 2019
The mystery was solved within three hours. At around 4 p.m., turkey hunters in a nearby wooded area discovered Josephson's remains about 40 feet away from a dirt road.
They noted that the place was secluded, and an assailant would likely have had to know about it ahead of time before venturing out there in the dark.
Having seen the security footage from the Bird Dog Bar, police now put out an all points bulletin for a black Chevy Impala. It did not take long to find that either. At around 3 a.m. on Saturday morning, a Columbia canine officer stopped a vehicle matching the description near the Five Points area.
When the officer asked the driver to step out of his vehicle, the driver fled on foot. After a brief chase, the officer took the driver into custody. His name is Nathaniel David Rowland, and he is 25 years old.
Returning to the Impala, the officer said that there was "a lot of blood" inside. The passenger's side and trunk were both soaked in blood, and police noted that a child locks were activated in the back.
Rowland was officially charged on Monday morning. The South Carolina native was charged with murder and kidnapping.
Forensics experts were able to match the blood in Rowland's car to that of Josephson, and police also noted that the place where her body was found was close to Rowland's previous residence.
Father's Facebook Post
Josephson's father, Seymour, kept friends and followers updated on the case through posts on Facebook as the weekend progressed. He expressed his despair and confusion over the sudden loss of his daughter, but thanked everyone for reaching out.
“It is with tremendous sadness and of a broken heart that I post this!” he wrote. “I will miss and love my baby girl for the rest of life. Samantha is no longer with us but she will not be forgotten. It is extremely hard to write this and post it but I love her with all my heart. I could continue to write about her but it kills me. I sit here and cry while looking at the picture and write this.”
Rowland's mother, Marci, made a public statement in court on Sunday as well. She read prepared words asking the judge to impose a life sentence on Rowland.
"I cannot fathom how someone could randomly select a person, a beautiful girl, and steal her life away," she said. "There are no words to describe the immense pain his actions have caused our family and friends. He's taken away a piece of our heart, soul and life."
"It sickens us to think that his face was the last thing that my baby girl saw on this Earth. Does he even know her name?" she went on. "Shame on him."
Hundreds of USC students lit candles tonight to remember Samantha Josephson, a senior who was killed last week after climbing into a car she thought was an Uber. Her father called on Uber and Lyft to find a way to prevent that kind of mistake from happening again. pic.twitter.com/3M9ZQEQ55r— Thad Moore (@thadmoore) April 1, 2019
Hundreds of students and other community members gathered for a candlelight vigil on Sunday night in honor of Josephson. The university is trying to make sense of quite a few tragedies this week. According to a report by the Democrat and Chronicle, another student committed suicide on March 25. A third, baseball player Parker Neff, passed away after collapsing on the field.
“It has been a difficult week for our extended Carolina family,” read a statement from university official Harris Pastides. “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.”
New Uber Policies
I’m hopeful we can get this bipartisanship bill through the legislature quickly.— Micah Caskey ?? (@MicahCaskey) April 1, 2019
Meanwhile, many in the community were quick to turn their attention on Uber, Lyft and other rideshare services, asking how something like this could happen. On Tuesday, South Carolina State Representatives Seth Rose and Micah Caskey proposed a law requiring rideshare drivers to bear a sign visible from at least 50 feet away.
"Helping riders avoid psychos is a no-brainer," tweeted Caskey. "I’m hopeful we can get this bipartisanship bill through the legislature quickly."