Last Friday morning, Samantha Josephson, a 21-year-old college student at the University of South Carolina, ordered an Uber at 2:00 a.m. after spending the night out with her friends. She was last seen on surveillance footage getting into a black Chevy Impala in downtown Columbia, thinking it was her Uber. It was not.
On Saturday, Columbia police chief Skip Holbrook announced that Josephson’s body had been found by turkey hunters in Clarendon County, a rural area 65 miles southeast of Columbia.
Although Holbrook did not reveal the cause of death, he did announce that a suspect had been arrested in relation with Josephson’s murder: 24-year-old Nathaniel David Rowland, who was arrested and charged with murder and kidnapping.
Holbrook said police believed that Josephson had mistakenly gotten into Rowland’s car thinking it was her Uber, and that he had activated the child-safety locks to prevent her from getting out of the car when she realized her mistake. When reached for comment, Uber directed Rolling Stone to a blog post by a representative from its law enforcement outreach team summarizing best practices, including double-checking the driver’s name and license plate number before getting into the car, but referred us to law enforcement regarding the specific details of the case.
On Friday afternoon, Josephson’s friends became concerned that she had not heard from her and called the police to report her missing. Police received a call from hunters saying they had found her body a few hours later. “They quickly realized between clothing and description it was our missing person,” Holbrook said in the press conference.
After watching the surveillance footage, police pulled over Rowland when they saw him driving the Chevy Impala on Saturday morning. Rowland initially tried to flee the scene, but he was caught by police, who searched the car and found what was later discovered to be Josephson’s blood in the trunk and the backseat.
Police also questioned a woman who was in the car with Rowland at the time of his arrest, but a spokeswoman said the department did not believe she was with him at the time of Josephson’s death.
On Saturday morning, Josephson’s father Seymour wrote an emotional post on Facebook confirming his daughter’s passing. “I will miss and love my baby girl for the rest of life. Samantha is no longer with us but she will not be for gotten,” he wrote. “It is extremely hard to write this and post it but I love her with all my heart.”
Josephson was a political science student at USC and had been admitted to Drexel University law school in Philadelphia, which she was planning to attend in the fall. She was originally from Robbinsville, New Jersey, where she was known as “Sami” and was known for her “infectious smile and a contagious laugh,” according to a statement from the Robbinsville school district.
Samantha’s funeral will be held in her home state of New Jersey on Wednesday, April 3rd.