A man described as the last known person to have seen Blaze Bernstein alive was arrested Friday in connection with the Ivy League student’s death, authorities said.
Bernstein, 19, a University of Pennsylvania sophomore who was home in California on a holiday break, was found dead Tuesday in a shallow grave in a park near his parents’ Lake Forest home.
On Friday, authorities said they arrested Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, of North Beach, Calif., a high school buddy of Bernstein’s with whom Bernstein had gone to the park Jan. 2.
Bernstein never returned, and his parents reported him missing Jan. 3.
Woodward was taken into custody for investigation of homicide after DNA evidence linked him to the death of Bernstein, who was a sophomore at UPenn in Philadelphia.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said Woodward won’t appear in court until Tuesday, adding that he was not ready to say what charges Woodward will face, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Woodward listed his occupation as “Nerf games,” according to the jail’s website.
Detectives used Bernstein’s Snapchat account to locate Woodward, Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes told the L.A. Times.
Investigators had interviewed Woodward after Bernstein’s parents reported him missing.
A sheriff’s investigator wrote in court filings that Woodward appeared nervous, had scratched hands and dirt under his fingernails, and avoided touching doors with his hands while leaving the sheriff’s office building.
Authorities searched for Bernstein for nearly a week with assistance from drone pilots and found his body near a brush after it had been partially exposed by rainfall.
The death of Bernstein rocked the tight-knit community of Lake Forest, 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles, and was the only homicide reported there in at least the past four years, officials said.
Hundreds of people held a candlelight vigil Wednesday to remember Bernstein. His parents urged community members to keep his memory alive by working to improve the world.
“With his death, a beautiful light has been extinguished and we encourage you to continue to shine his light, through acts of loving kindness,” the family said in a statement read by attorney Annee Della Donna.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said Woodward won’t appear in court until Tuesday, adding that he was not ready to say what charges Woodward will face, the L.A. Times reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.