Authorities in South Carolina have charged a 24-year-old man with abducting and killing a 21-year-old New Jersey native who was expected to graduate this spring from the University of South Carolina and begin classes in the fall at Drexel University’s law school.
Columbia Police Chief William “Skip” Holbrook said at a news conference Saturday night that Samantha Josephson, of Robbinsville, Mercer County, got into Nathaniel D. Rowland’s car about 2 a.m. Friday, apparently mistaking it for the Uber ride she had hailed after leaving a bar.
She never came home, and concerned friends reported Josephson missing Friday afternoon, Holbrook said. Several hours later, two people out turkey hunting in Clarendon County — at least 65 miles from Columbia — discovered Josephson’s body in a rural wooded area off a dirt road, the police chief said.
Holbrook said that about 3 a.m. Saturday in Columbia, an officer spotted Rowland’s black Chevy Impala being driven around near the Five Points area where he allegedly picked up Josephson the night before.
When the officer pulled over the car, Holbrook said, Rowland got out of the car and ran away. Holbrook said that Rowland was ultimately chased down, and that officers later found what the police chief described as a large amount of blood in Rowland’s car, as well as bleach, other cleaning supplies, and Josephson’s cellphone. Holbrook said tests later confirmed that the blood in the car was Josephson’s.
Holbrook said the child safety locks were on in the back seats, which could have prevented someone from getting out. He also said the area where Josephson’s body was found was close to where Rowland previously lived.
Rowland was charged with murder and kidnapping, police said.
Holbrook said that Josephson’s relatives were in Columbia, adding: “Our hearts are broken. ...There is nothing tougher than to stand before a family and explain how a loved one was murdered.”
On Saturday, Josephson’s father, Seymour Josephson, posted a tribute to his daughter 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 forgotten.”
A GoFundMe page set up to cover her funeral costs had raised more than $28,000 through Sunday morning.