As investigators continued to comb a rural area in South Carolina where a college student from New Jersey was found killed last week, the parents of the accused killer say that they believe their son's protestations of innocence.

"Ain't no way in the world he could do this," Henry Rowland, the father of the man who was accused of kidnapping and murdering Samantha Josephson last week in South Carolina, told local TV station WACH Fox 57.

Nathaniel David Rowland, 24, remains jailed until his bond hearing on April 22.

Investigators say Josephson, a 21-year-old senior at the University of South Carolina, got into Rowland's black Chevrolet Impala early Friday morning outside a bar in the Five Points section of Columbia, thinking it was her Uber ride. Her body, which had been repeatedly stabbed, was later found by turkey hunters 65 miles away.

Rowland was arrested the following day in Columbia. Police said his vehicle had been captured by surveillance cameras, which also captured Josephson getting into a car.

Josephson was laid to rest Wednesday a day after more than 300 people attended a vigil in her hometown.

Josephson's father on Tuesday called Rowland a "monster."

But Rowland's parents don't believe so because he told his mother that he is innocent. His father, however, added that if his son did do it, he would deserve to be punished.

"I know it's my child but if you're wrong, you're wrong — period. There's no ifs, ands or buts about it. You've got to pay the consequences," he said.

The father said his son said he had been at a party on the evening of Josephson's disappearance and that he had passed out. When he woke up about 2:30 a.m., he said he couldn't find his car keys. He said he then found the keys in his car, which was covered in blood, his father said.

Rowland's parents, composed but with tears in their eyes, said their hearts go out to Josephson's family.

"Especially when you send a child to another state to go to college and she almost finished to be a lawyer and something like this happens," the elder Rowland said. "I can't see it."

The parents said Rowland is one of four siblings. They said he played basketball for South Carolina State College but didn't finish his final year because the family could no longer afford tuition. After school, he got a job with FedEx, they said.

K9 units from the Clarendon County Sheriff's Department on Wednesday were using shovels and metal detectors to continue to search the wooded area in New Zion, South Carolina, where Josephson's body was found Friday, according to the Carolina News & Reporter.

Police said they found blood and a cell phone, both belonging to Josephson, in the back seat of Rowland's car. Investigators said they also found bleach, germicidal wipes and window cleaner in the car. A child safety seat was also found in the back seat and the child safety door locks were locked.

The Clarendon County coroner on Monday said the cause of death was “multiple sharp force injuries." According to a warrant for Rowland's arrest, Josephson suffered "numerous wounds" to her head, neck, face, upper body, leg and foot. Officials have not said whether they have recovered a weapon.

Josephson's funeral was Wednesday at Congregation Beth Chaim in the Princeton Junction section of West Windsor with burial in the Perrineville section of Millstone Township.

Samantha Josephson (via GoFundMe)

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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