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Friend arrested in death of Penn student in California

Friend arrested in death of Penn student in California

A friend of University of Pennsylvania student, Blaze Bernstein, who was appeared visibly shaken while being interviewed by detectives, according to a search warrant.

"Based on inconsistencies in the story of [Woodward], we focussed on him as a suspect", Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes said.

The pair knew each other from high school, according to multiple reports.

Woodward was the last person to be seen with Bernstein before he was found buried in a shallow grave in Borrego Park in his hometown of Orange County on Tuesday.

"On their way out of Sheriff's Headquarters, (investigators) noticed every door (the friend) had to touch on the way out of the building he pulled his jacket over his hand to prevent his hand and fingers from touching any part of the doors he touched".

Authorities had been searching for Bernstein for days when his body was found Tuesday afternoon in brush surrounding a neighborhood park in the Foothill Ranch area of the city of Lake Forest. It's believed the two exchanged messages on Snapchat the day of the killing.

Several questions remain unanswered about Bernstein's death, which jolted a community that, officials say, rarely sees such violence.

Bernstein's mother, Jeanne Pepper, responded to news of the arrest on Twitter, writing, "Finally". "My thoughts are: Revenge is empty".




Barnes says investigators are still trying to determine a motive. Relatives said he was going with a high school friend to meet another person at the park the night he disappeared.

"Nothing will bring back my son so we ask the world to please honor Blaze's memory by doing an act of kindness today - don't wait - do it now", the grieving mom told the Los Angeles Times.

It was not immediately possible to reach Woodward in custody, where he listed his occupation as "Nerf games", according to the jail's website.

Bernstein was visiting relatives in Orange County while on winter break from school. In the affidavit, authorities also said the friend appeared nervous and was "visibly shaking". He said he left the park at 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.

According to a search warrant affidavit obtained by the Orange County Register, Woodward told sheriff's investigators he drove Bernstein to the park, where he got out and walked away.

When detectives spoke to him again on January 4, two days after Bernstein disappeared, his hands had several scratches and abrasions. Inside the vehicle, officers found camping equipment, a black belt, and a large plastic bin inside.

The friend also had what looked like "dirt under the fingernails" on both of his hands and, during a follow-up interview at the sheriff's headquarters, took measures to avoid touching any doors in the office with his hands or fingers, the newspaper reported.


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