A 21-year-old University of South Carolina student is believed to have been kidnapped and murdered after entering a vehicle she mistook for her Uber ride early Friday, authorities said.
Samantha Josephson was out with friends in Columbia, South Carolina, when she was last seen getting into a black Chevrolet Impala around 2 a.m. Her body was found the next afternoon in a wooded area by turkey hunters, police said.
“What we know now is that she had, in fact, summoned an Uber ride and was waiting for that Uber ride to come,” Columbia Police Department Chief Skip Holbrook said at a press conference. “We believe that she simply mistakenly got into this car thinking it was her Uber ride.”
A search for the Impala led to Saturday’s early morning arrest of 24-year-old Nathaniel David Rowland on kidnapping and homicide charges. Holbrook said Rowland was pulled over during a traffic stop after he was seen driving a vehicle that matched the suspect’s vehicle description. After Rowland was asked to step out of his car, he allegedly attempted to run on foot from an officer.
When officers looked into his vehicle, they could see what appeared to be blood. After a search warrant was acquired, blood found inside the trunk and passenger seat tested positive for Josephson’s blood, Holbrook said.
Josephson’s cell phone was also found inside Rowland’s vehicle, along with bleach, window cleaner and germicide wipes. The vehicle’s child safety locks were also found initiated, which Holbrook noted would prevent someone from escaping.
Authorities have not released a possible motive or say how Josephson died. Rowland was only described as having previously lived in the area where the woman’s body was found, roughly 40 feet off of a dirt road.
Holbrook described that wooded area as being “very difficult to get to unless you knew how to get there.”
Samantha was a senior political science major from Robbinsville, New Jersey, according to local Columbia station WIS-TV.
USC President Harris Pastides released a statement expressing condolences to Josephson’s family and friends and urging students to look out for one another and be “active bystanders.”