University of South Carolina student murdered after mistaking car for Uber, police say

PHOTO: Samantha Josephson is pictured in this undated photo released by Columbia Police Department.PlayColumbia Police Department
WATCH Student killed after getting in wrong car

A 25-year-old man was arrested on Saturday in connection with the death of a University of South Carolina student, who went missing after a night out with her roommates in Columbia, South Carolina, and was found dead in a rural area, police said.

Nathaniel David Rowland was charged for the murder and kidnapping of Samantha Josephson, police announced during a press conference on Saturday. He waived the right to appear at his bond hearing Sunday, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

Josephson's mother, Marci Josephson, admonished Rowland for not showing up to the court so they could "see his evil face," according to Columbia-based newspaper The State.

"He’s taken away a piece of our heart, soul and life," the anguished mother said in the courtroom. "Shame on him."

Josephson, of New Jersey, was last seen by friends Friday around 1:30 p.m., the City of Columbia Police Department said on Twitter. Shortly after 2 a.m., investigators believe she was seen getting into a black "newer model Chevy Impala," and family and friends had not been able to get in touch with her since then, police said.

The 21-year-old "summoned" an Uber ride during the early morning hours and was waiting for the ride to come, police said. Josephson was seen on video mistakenly getting into the car — a black four-door Chevy Impala — "thinking it was an Uber," police said.

Around 3 a.m. on Saturday, police made a traffic stop of a car matching the description of the suspected vehicle and the driver led police on a foot chase before he was arrested.

"A large amount of blood" found inside the car's truck and passenger seat matched Josephson's, police said. Her cell phone was also recovered along with liquid bleach, germicidal wipes and window cleaner.

PHOTO: Samantha Josephson is pictured in this undated photo released by Columbia Police Department. Columbia Police Department
Samantha Josephson is pictured in this undated photo released by Columbia Police Department.

The car's child safety locks were activated, which doesn't allow someone "the means of escape from the suspect vehicle," police said.

Josephson's body was found by a couple of turkey hunters in a rural part of the county that's "difficult to get to," but was familiar to Rowland, who lives in the area, police said.

The victim's father, Seymour Josephson, expressed his devastation on Facebook.

"I will miss and love my baby girl for the rest of life," he wrote. "Samantha is no longer with us but she will not be for gotten."

University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides sent a letter to students Saturday morning confirming Josephson's death.

"It is with the heaviest of hearts that I write these words this morning," he said in the 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."

Efforts to reach Josephson's family were not immediately successful.

Police said they met with Josephson's family on Saturday before the press conference. "Our hearts are broken, they are broken. There is nothing tougher than to stand in front of family and explain how a loved one was murdered," police said. Josephson's family is from New Jersey and have a lot of family support in Columbia, South Carolina.

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin tweeted on Saturday afternoon that the Columbia Police Department and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division were investigating the case.

The investigation is still ongoing, police said.

A vigil for Josephson will be held Sunday evening, ABC Columbia affiliate WOLO reported.