Samantha Josephson, a University of South Carolina student from New Jersey, did what any responsible 21-year-old would do on Friday morning, just after a night out with friends. She called for an Uber ride.
The Robbinsville native seemed to follow the usual protocol: She waited at 715 Harden St., in the Five Points section of downtown Columbia, SC, until a black car, a Chevrolet Impala, pulled up.
She got in, police said. The driver then locked the car.
Then, just as Samantha did so many things right, so much went wrong.
Her body was found around 4 p.m. on Friday, nearly 16 hours after she disappeared, by two men who were turkey hunting, police said.
Step-by-step, police provided the horrifying details that Patch has listed below, an account that has left two communities in shock, friends and family in mourning and a father who took to Facebook to tell his daughter one last time: “I love her with all my heart.”
Read update: Horror For Samantha Josephson’s NJ Mom: ‘Does He Know Her Name?’
These details came following the arrest of Nathaniel David Rowland, 25, around 3 a.m. on Saturday morning in downtown Columbia. Rowland was charged with murder and kidnapping, police said (story continues below the image).
He was arrested merely blocks away from where the alleged kidnapping took place, police said. Read more: Arrest Made:Samantha Josephson Of NJ, Missing USC Student, Dies
Police and friends of Samantha have since mourned their loss, as well as Samantha’s father who said: “I will miss and love my baby girl for the rest of life.” A GoFundMe page was set up to raise money for the family, and more than $30,000 was raised.
And police and others also lamented how everything could have been different, and how the tragedy brought attention to ride-share-service safety.
Indeed, Uber, which has declined to comment, has a list of safety tips that advises people: “Get in the right car. Before you get in the car, check that license plate, driver photo, and driver name all match what’s listed in the app.”
Here is how that tragedy started, and what followed, according to police:
“Our hearts are broken,” said Chief W.H. “Skip” Holbrook. “There is nothing tougher than to stand before a family and explain how a loved one was murdered. It was gut-wrenching. This is personal to us.”
Harris Pastides, the USC president, released a statement, saying: “It is with the heaviest of hearts that I write these words this morning.”
“Our prayers are with the family and friends of Samantha Josephson following the devastating news of her death,” he said. “Times like these leave me searching for words of wisdom and comfort. However, I take solace that the Carolina Family is here to embrace those who are hurting.”
Josephson was a senior political science major who was expected to graduate in May, according to The State. She was preparing to go to Drexel University law school in Philadelphia.
Pastides told students that, as they make plans for the weekend, “remember the tenets of Stand Up Carolina: look out for one another, be active bystanders. Travel in groups and stay together. If you have not already done so, download the RAVE Guardian safety app, set up your profile and learn how to use it.”
“It has been a difficult week for our extended Carolina family,” he said. “The loss of a student is never easy but this has been a particularly painful few days as we have experienced loss on several of our campuses. As a family, let’s continue to pray for all the families experiencing heartache and grief this week.”
David Friedrich, principal of Hopewell Elementary School who works with Samantha’s mom, announced on Twitter that he was “heartbroken to share that the body of Samantha Josephson has been found. Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers.”