Student, 21, murdered after getting into car she mistook for her Uber ride, phone and blood found in suspect’s car

[sharenow]

Tragically, a family is mourning the murder of their 21-year-old daughter Samantha Josephson who was a University of South Carolina student. All the evidence points to her having willingly entered a car that she mistakenly believed was her Uber ride at about 2am Friday.

Her friends saw her get into the car and they too believed it was her ride. She had been out with the friends for the evening in the Five Points area of Columbia, South Carolina.

Throughout the day on Friday, family and friends were unable reach Josephson and a frantic search began.

Her body was found the next day by turkey hunters, 40 feet off a dirt road in rural Claredon County. A few hours later, her killer was seen by police in a car matching the description of the one she got into and he was pulled over at 3am Saturday. He was just two blocks from the Five Points area.

Nathaniel David Rowland, 24, was apprehended after attempting to flee on foot from officers. According to police, Samantha’s blood and her cell phone were found in the black Chevy Impala, as well as bleach, wet wipes, and germicide.

A child safety seat was found in the vehicle and the child safety locks were enabled, meaning Josephson was not able to open the back doors to escape once she was inside.

Security footage shows the Impala slowly approaching the bar-close crowd and Josephson getting in when it stopped.

 

Rowland’s Impala approaching the bar-close crowd.

Her real Uber driver showed up shortly thereafter and subsequently cancelled the ride when she did not show for the pick-up.

In a news conference on Saturday, Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook said: “She had, in fact, summoned an Uber ride. She was waiting for that Uber ride to come, we believe. She simply mistakenly got into this car thinking it was an Uber ride.

“Our hearts are broken, they’re broken. There is nothing tougher than to stand before a family and explain how a loved one was murdered. It was gut-wrenching, words really can’t describe what they’re going through.”

Holbrook didn’t take questions during the news conference and did not elaborate on a motive or how Josephson died.

At the time of Rowland’s arrest, there was another woman who knew him in the car with him. That woman is cooperating with police.

Samantha’s hometown was Robinsville, New Jersey.

Her father sorrowfully confirmed the tragedy on Facebook. “I will miss and love my baby girl for the rest of life. Samantha is no longer with us but she will not be forgotten,” wrote Seymour Josephson. It is extremely hard to write this and post it but I love her with all my heart. I could continue to write about her but it kills me. I sit here and cry while looking at the picture and write this.”

Uber urges riders to confirm that the driver and car that arrives match the information provided in the app, which gives the driver’s name and photo as well as the type of car being driven and the license number. Drivers are expected to confirm their name when asked by the rider.

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[sharenow]
Victor Rantala

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