Chief: Ride share mistake led to death of SC college student



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This undated photo provided by the Columbia Police Department shows Nathaniel David Rowland. Police in South Carolina say they’ve arrested a suspect in connection with the death of a college student. Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook said at a news conference that 24-year-old Rowland was detained early Saturday, March 30, 2019, and that blood was found in his car. (Columbia Police Department via AP)

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The man accused of killing a woman who got into his car thinking it was her Uber ride had turned on the child locks in his backseat so the doors could only be opened from the outside, police in South Carolina say.

Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook also said investigators found the victim’s blood in Nathaniel David Rowland’s vehicle. Rowland, 24, was arrested and charged in the death of 21-year-old Samantha Josephson of Robbinsville, New Jersey.

Investigators would not say what they think Rowland did to Josephson from the time she got into his black Chevrolet Impala in Columbia’s Five Points entertainment district around 1:30 a.m. Friday until her body was dumped in woods off a dirt road in Clarendon County about 65 miles (105 kilometers) away.

Josephson had numerous wounds to her head, neck, face, upper body, leg and foot, according to arrest warrants released Sunday by the State Law Enforcement Division. The documents didn’t say what was used to attack her.

Josephson’s blood was found in the truck and inside Rowland’s car along with her cellphone, Holbrook said, along with bleach, window cleaner and cleaning wipes.

“This was a bad scene,” the police chief said at a press conference late Saturday.

Hunters found Josephson’s body Friday afternoon just hours after it was dumped despite being left in an area that was “very difficult to get to unless you knew how to get there,” Holbrook said.

Rowland has recently lived in the area, Holbrook said.

The night after Josephson was kidnapped, a Columbia officer noticed a black Chevrolet Impala about two blocks from the Five Points bars where Josephson was kidnapped. The driver ran, but was arrested after a short chase, Holbrook said.

Rowland is charged with kidnapping and murder, Holbrook said. He was being held in the Richland County jail. It wasn’t known if he had a lawyer.

Safety advocates urged college students to match the vehicle color and model, the license tag number, and the photo of their ride share drivers before getting in a vehicle.

“She simply, mistakenly, got into the car thinking it was an Uber ride,” Holbrook said.

The crime shook Columbia, the state capital where the University of South Carolina is one of the main economic engines. Josephson was a student at the school.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and his wife, Peggy, asked on a message on Twitter for prayers for Josephson’s family.

“Peggy and I are devastated and crushed over the Josephson family losing their beautiful daughter Samantha. She was one of the brightest young stars,” McMaster wrote.


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