It was just after 2:00 pm when Samantha Josephson decided to part with her friends and leave the Bird Dog bar alone. Then, the police said, the 21-year-old college senior called an Uber.
Josephson had been in the Five Points district of downtown Columbia on Thursday night, a popular nightlife district just off the University of South Carolina. Surveillance shots show her walking outside, waiting on the sidewalk and holding her cell phone in her hand.
At 02:09, a black Chevrolet Impala pulled into the parking lot next to her. As pedestrians passed him, Josephson got in. Samantha Josephson (1
But the Impala was not their Uber, the police decided too late, and the man who drove them never brought them home.
Twelve hours later, Josephson's friends reported that she had been missing.
Two hours later, the authorities found her dead.
"Our heart is broken," Police Chief of Police, Skip Holbrook, said at a weekend press conference, shortly after a meeting with Josephson's family, who had traveled from New Jersey to the city. "They are broken. There is nothing more difficult than standing in front of a family and explaining how a loved one was murdered.
Police arrested 24-year-old Nathaniel D. Rowland for murder and kidnapping, Holbrook said.
Josephson's abduction and the mystery of her death have left the campus community with her home for four years She immediately shocked and encouraged her friends, strangers and university officials to be vigilant in using rides.
In a message, the university encouraged students to use campus shuttles and apply best practices when using services such as Uber and Lyft. "Bring the vehicle description and license plate together with the information in the app," said the message, always asking the driver for the name of the person he should pick up before he climbs inside.
The police say during his press conference The boss said the authorities believe Josephson had "mistakenly" got into Impala because she thought it was her crossing.
The following morning, Josephson's employees grew worried at the Liberty Tap Room in Columbia if they did not come to their breakfasts. Rich Vascovich, the restaurant's partner, told a newspaper that Josephson's friends had called him to ask if she had come to work. They had not heard from her either.
"That kind of hint that something was wrong," Vascovich told the state.
At 13:30 Friday, Josephson's friends called the police to report missing. Officers responded to Hub on Campus in downtown Columbia, an apartment complex where Joseph's roommates had been waiting for her to come home. They searched and called without success.
The authorities collected information about Josephson's last known whereabouts and asked for photographs that they had Could distribute media companies. They found the surveillance material and published information about what Josephson had worn that night: black jeans, light shoes, and an orange top.
At about the same time, about 70 kilometers away, in a town in Clarendon County, New Zion, two turkey hunters When they discovered a body, they moved through a wooded, secluded field, 40 meters from a dirt road.
Quick, said the police chief. Authorities in Colombia and Deputies of the Sheriff of Clarendon County realized that the woman the hunters had found The forest was Josephson. Her clothes were the same.
The university later confirmed Josephson's death in a statement. "Times like these make me look for words of wisdom and comfort," said US President Harris Pastides in the statement. "I take comfort, however, that the Carolina family is here to hug those who hurt themselves."
The authorities shared vehicle information for the suspected Impala and called the community on alert. On Saturday morning at 3 am, about 24 hours after Josephson disappeared, a patrolman spotted a black impala two blocks from Five Points.
The officer drove over the Impala, approached the driver and told him to get out of the vehicle Holbrook, the police chief. The driver escaped but was arrested.
Inside the Impala, the authorities found a large amount of blood in the trunk and in the passenger seat. The police also found their phone, window cleaner, liquid bleach and antibacterial wipes. The child safety lock had been activated in the back seat.
The authorities identified the driver as Rowland. He is imprisoned in the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center. It is unclear whether he has received a lawyer according to prison records.
The police chief said Rowland had previously lived near the area where Josephson's body had been found to get there.
The murder investigation is ongoing, Holbrook said. He said Josephson's family had priority, he said, who had come to Columbia. The police chief called his meeting with them "good-natured".
"Words obviously can not describe what they're going through right now," he said, adding that it was important to him that the family understand how serious authorities were taking the investigation. "We are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. It's just as personal to us and it's always a priority. "
" I have assured them that we will be there for each step of the way until this happens, "Holbrook said Those who knew Josephson well I said in local news reports that she was friendly, popular, and warm They called her "Sami." They told the state that she was a sister in the Alpha Gamma Delta College and was planning to graduate in May before traveling to the Law School of Drexel University in the fall
Vascovich told the state, "She was honestly one of those people you loved so much."
School and government officials in Josephson's hometown of Robbinsville, New Jersey published statements about shock and grief on Facebook the 21-year-old's father, "With tremendous sadness and broken heart," that his daughter "was no longer with us."
"It's extremely difficult to write and post this, but I love it Si With all my heart, "he wrote, a message accompanied by a photo of his daughter, whose arm was wrapped around his neck. "I could keep writing about her, but it kills me."