Suspect arrested in Blaze Bernstein's homicide investigation

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A friend of slain pre-med student Blaze Bernstein was arrested Friday afternoon in connection with the death of the University of Pennsylvania sophomore, whose body was found near a Foothill Ranch park on Tuesday, a week after the 19-year-old disappeared.

When the Sheriff's Department initially interview Woodward, he said that he dropped Bernstein off at the park and waited for an hour in the auto.

It was unclear how well Woodward and Bernstein knew each other in high school, or the nature of their relationship, Barnes said.

Orange County officials say 20-year-old Samuel Lincoln Woodward of Newport Beach was arrested Friday on suspicion of murder.

Jessie Fischman, who was friends with Bernstein in middle school, called him "an incredible friend with a truly radiant personality".

Investigators said Woodward told them Bernstein walked off into the park alone when they arrived. It's believed the two exchanged messages on Snapchat the day of the killing.

Witnesses told investigators the high-school classmates drove to the park on January 2 where Bernstein went into the woods shortly before midnight and disappeared.

It was the only homicide reported in Lake Forest in at least the past four years, according to authorities.

He had scratches and abrasions on his hands which he said were from a "fight club" that he took part in.

Bernstein went missing just five days before he was planning on returning to Penn for the start of his second semester.

"With his death, a attractive 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.

"The only thing I can think of is that maybe he was abducted", the newspaper reported Bernstein's mother Jeanne saying on Sunday.

"Blaze was brilliant, colorful, and charismatic; who shined light on all of the lives of the people and communities he touched", the family's statement said. He said that he waited in his vehicle while Blaze walked to the park, then waited for around an hour the victim to return, but he never did.

"Finally. My thoughts are: Revenge is empty".

Woodward also had dirt under his fingernails, which he told authorities was due to falling into a "dirty puddle" while sparring.

"Nothing will bring back my son, so we ask the world to please honor Blaze's memory by doing an act of kindness today".

The 16-page warrant filed by a sheriff's investigator and obtained by Bernstein's friend was "breathing heavy, talking fast and visibly shaking". He said he then left around 1 a.m. and drove to his girlfriend's house in Tustin and then returned to the park at about 3:40 a.m. after Bernstein still had not responded.

He agreed to be further interviews at the sheriff's headquarters in Santa Ana, where his story "stayed fairly consistent".

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