Man arrested for murder of USC student who mistook car for Uber

Police say Samantha Josephson thought she was getting into an Uber when the alleged killer locked the car doors. Nathaniel Rowland was charged Saturday for her murder.
7:27 | 04/02/19

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Transcript for Man arrested for murder of USC student who mistook car for Uber
Samantha was by herself. She had absolutely no chance. Reporter: A heart-wrenching vigil for college student Samantha Josephson. She truly was the love of my life. Reporter: Her last moments caught on surveillance footage. Getting into what appears to be her Uber. But it's a stranger. Police say this man, Nathaniel Rowland, kidnapped and murdered the 21-year-old before discarding her body in a remote wooded area. Our lives will forever be better for having known her. Reporter: Family and friends remembering the university of South Carolina student for her positivity and bright future. Samantha was going to go to law school. Reporter: Now those dreams gone. And with ridesharing apps more popular than ever with an estimated 75 million riders on Uber alone, questions swirling about how passengers can stay safe. It was a typical Thursday night here in five points, an area really popular with college students near the university of South Carolina campus. Samantha Josephson and her friends, they went out here at this bar called the bird dog. Reporter: After she got separated from the group, she decided to go home. Police say she ordered an Uber after 2:00 A.M. She can be seen waiting Aloan outside on the surveillance footage. A black Chevy impala pulled up and Josephson got in. We believe she simply mistakenly got into cart thinking it was an Uber ride. Reporter: It was not. The next day worried friends called the police. They had not heard from her. The next morning they became worried. About 1:30 they reached out to the police department to report her missing. Reporter: But it would be too late. A body had been found by a couple of people hunting in a field in what was described by the sheriff to us as a wooded area in a very rural part of the county. Reporter: According to the arrest warrant, Josephson suffered multiple wounds to her body including her head, neck, face, upper body, leg, and foot. The coroner releasing her cause of death as due to multiple sharp force injuries. So a critical piece of evidence in this case was surveillance cameras that actually caught her getting into the vehicle, which then allowed the police to I.D. The vehicle. Reporter: Police tracked down the vehicle from that surveillance video and arrested 24-year-old Nathaniel Rowland at a traffic stop around 3:00 A.M. Inside police say they found liquid bleach, cleaning wipes, and window cleaner. The Chevy impala that was driven by the suspect had a large amount of liquid that we believed to be blood, and once they did a presumptive test it in fact was confirmed to be blood. Reporter: Rowland is now charged with kidnapping and murder. Police describing how he was able to carry out his alleged crime. Further investigation on the suspect vehicle determined the child -- that a child safety seat was in the back and then the child safety locks were activated on the door. That would not allow someone to -- the means of escape from the back of the suspect vehicle. Reporter: In a court hearing on Sunday, which the alleged murderer did not attend, Josephson's mother with this emotional plea. His actions were senseless, vile and unacceptable. 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? He should never be given the right to walk free again for what he did to my daughter, or be given the opportunity to hurt anyone else. Samantha Josephson. My daughters name is Samantha Josephson. Don't ever forget her name. Samantha Josephson. Shame on him. Reporter: Today on campus some students saying they'll continue to be vigilant. Are you going to take any extra precautions? Oh, yeah, I'm definitely going to be checking like who's my Uber driver, checking the license plates all that stuff. I'm telling all my friends. I'm definitely going to track the car. And I'm not calling an Uber alone. Reporter: Police have not said if the killing was targeted but are asking the public to report any encounters with fake rideshare drivers. We also would ask anybody that has been in five points, you know, in recent times that has had anybody try to entice him over to a car like in a rideshare capacity. I would ask them to give a call. This is not the first time someone has used the mask of rideshare to prey on unsuspecting victims. Carla Westland thought she was getting into the back seat of an Uber when she was approached by Nicholas morales one night. After I'd been out for a friend's birthday and I remember there were a lot of cars on the street. Reporter: Little did she know he was just posing as a driver. I fell asleep, and I woke up, we were parked somewhere in a driveway and he was just banging my head against the seat. Reporter: She says she was raped and only managed to escape after talking to him for three hours. And I just remember slowly getting dressed thinking I can't believe this guy's actually going to let me go. This can't be -- I can't believe that he's actually going to let me go. Reporter: Morales now faces 27 felony counts in Los Angeles after posing as an Uber driver and allegedly assaulting seven women. In at least one instance using a firearm. In another a knife. There's clearly a level of responsibility by the Uber rider of checking the tag, checking the photo that it matches the driver, that the car description matches and that he has the correct name as to who you are. I think everybody makes that mistake sometimes at end of the night when you just want to go home and you neglect that extra step. Reporter: Authorities say morales would allegedly wait outside clubs in Beverly hills and surrounding areas late at night. According to police, he would drive up to women who appeared drunk and ask if they requested a ride. After this arrest ABC news security consultant Steve Gomez gave my colleague Kayla Whitt worth some tips on how to stay aware as a passenger. You don't necessarily want to be waiting at the curb. You're waiting for a rideshare or even a taxi wait near the building. If there's security you can be kind of close to the security. Because no predator is going to want to pick up anybody that's close to security. So what should you ask the driver as soon as they pull up? You should ask the driver who are you here to pick up? If you look at Samantha's situation where it's early morning hours, she's alone, that in reality she's just vulnerable. She doesn't go through the check list, does the car match, does the tag match. Is it the right driver? Does he have my name? It's one of these super sad outcomes. Reporter: Tonight Uber calling this an unspeakable crime, saying their hearts are with Samantha Josephson's family and loved ones, writing that "We've been working with local law enforcement and college campuses across the country to educate the public about how to avoid fake rideshare drivers." They also caution users to use the app to double-check two important details before starting a trip, the driver and the car. You guys have to travel together. Reporter: For Josephson's father and the rest of her family, the warnings come too late. But they're now focused on making sure this doesn't happen to another family. What I want to do is educate everybody. Not that I'm the smartest person here. But I've gone through this, and I don't want anybody else to ever go through this again. I can't tell you how painful this is. Reporter: For "Nightline" I'm Victor Oquendo in Columbia, South Carolina.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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