COLUMBIA, S.C. — A South Carolina man has been convicted of abducting and murdering the New Jersey woman who mistook his car for her Uber ride in 2019.

A jury on Tuesday found Nathaniel Rowland guilty in the death of 21-year-old Samantha Josephson of Robbinsville.

The University of South Carolina student disappeared in March 2019. Her body was found less than a day later in remote woods.

Prosecutors said Rowland had trapped Josephson in the car with childproof locks that could only be opened from the outside and then stabbed her more than 100 times.

Defense attorneys argued that none of Rowland's DNA was found on the victim.

Samantha Josephson (Seymour Josephson)

Josephson's body had more than 100 stab wounds and was virtually drained of blood -- a death that turned a national spotlight on ride-hailing safety and led to some changes, including more prominent displays of driver license plates.

At the trial Tuesday, the prosecution said Rowland circled the block repeatedly and watched Josephson wait for her driver before before approaching her. Josephson then assumed Rowland's black Chevrolet Impala was the right car and found herself trapped in the back seat because Rowland had the child safety locks on. She tried to kick her way out of the car, prosecutors argued, before she was killed.

Robbinsville police Sgt. Scott Kevit at a vigil for Samantha Josephson (Brian McCarthy)

Rowland then dumped her body in a remote area near his hometown of New Zion, just a short distance from his family home, Fifth Circuit Deputy Solicitor Dan Goldberg said. Surveillance videos showed Rowland later trying to use the victim's debit card and sell her cellphone.

Rowland's "ability to remain calm and focused under extreme pressure and circumstances" — a skill he once listed verbatim on a resume — attributed to how he drove around calmly for hours with blood and a dead body in his car after the murder, Goldberg said.

"(Josephson) was right there for the taking," Goldberg said. "The defendant did the taking. He took her from Five Points. He took her life. And he took the time to try to erase all the evidence — to try to erase her."

The vehicle that Samantha Josephson was seen getting into. (Columbia, S.C. Police Dept.)

Public defender Tracy Pinnock urged jurors to consider inconsistencies between the prosecution's narrative and the evidence presented that would show someone else committed the crime. Although Josephson fought back against her attacker, evidence showed that genetic material collected from her fingernails didn't match Rowland, Pinnock said. Instead, forensic scientists found DNA of two unidentified male individuals.

Samantha Josephson (via GoFundMe)

The defendant also showed no wounds from such a struggle, and his clothes and shoes didn't bear any debris from the wooded area where Josephson's body was dumped, Pinnock added.

"Nathaniel Rowland did not have a mark on him," Pinnock said. "Not a cut, not a bruise."

Throughout in the trial, prosecutors laid out a mountain of evidence and called nearly three dozen witnesses. Experts linked Josephson's blood to the interior of Rowland's Chevrolet Impala and to the suspected murder weapon, a knife with two blades. Her blood was also found on cleaning supplies in the trash behind the home of the man's girlfriend at the time — and on a sock and bandana owned by Rowland, experts testified.

Robbinsville police Sgt. Scott Kevit at a vigil for Samantha Josephson (Brian McCarthy)
Candlelight vigil for Samantha Josephson of Robbinsville (Brian McCarthy)
Candlelight vigil for Samantha Josephson of Robbinsville (Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ)

Other evidence included cellphone tracking data pinpointing Rowland's and Josephson's locations the night of the crime. One forensic scientist testified that DNA collected from Rowland's fingernails matched the victim's genetic material, and DNA belonging to both suspect and victim were found on gloves located in the trash.

Rowland's attorneys rested the case Monday without calling any witnesses, and Rowland himself never took the stand to testify. Rowland's lawyer did ask that the charges be thrown out because prosecutors had a circumstantial case, never showing that Rowland actually killed Josephson nor that he was driving the vehicle when she disappeared.

Circuit Judge Clifton Newman rejected the request, saying there was an avalanche of direct and circumstantial evidence that a jury should consider.

Rowland has been jailed since his arrest the day after Josephson's disappearance. He faces up to life in prison without parole if convicted of murder and kidnapping.

Samantha Josephson's Sister Tracy (L), father Seymour and mother Marci arrive at a candlelight vigil (Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ)

NJ teachers and educators caught in sex crime busts

Over the past few years, state lawmakers have taken on the challenge of dealing with accused child predators among the ranks of teachers and educators.

In 2018, the so-called “pass the trash” law went into effect, requiring stricter New Jersey school background checks related to child abuse and sexual misconduct.

The follow individuals were arrested over the past several years. Some have been convicted and sentenced to prison, while others have accepted plea deals for probation.

Others cases are still pending, including some court delays amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

NJ arrests 31 accused child predators in "Operation 24/7"

A roundup of 31 men have been accused of sexually exploiting children online, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced on July 14 while detailing "Operation 24/7."

The suspects “possessed and or distributed videos and images of child sexual abuse, including in many cases videos of young children being raped by adults,” Grewal said.

Chat apps and gaming platforms remain favorite hunting grounds for child predators and even as the pandemic winds down, many children have continued to spend more time online.

State Police received 39% more tips in just the first 6 months of 2021 than they received in the entire year in 2019. The following are suspects charged in "Operation 24/7."