Samantha Josephson: What we know about her violent death
As Samantha Josephson's hometown of Robbinsville prepares to remember the University of South Carolina senior with a candlelight vigil on Tuesday night, many questions surround the circumstances of her death, including the biggest: Why?
The vigil starts at 7 p.m. at the West Town Center Lake Gazebo off Route 33. Township officials warn that parking will be limited at the event.
Columbia, South Carolina police said Josephson got into a black Chevrolet Impala she thought was her Uber ride early Friday morning after leaving the Bird Dog bar in the city's Five Points area.
WHAT WE KNOW:
- Josephson's body was found hours after she was last seen, 65 miles away in New Zion, SC off a rural dirt road, an area police said was "known" to the man they say drove the car she entered, Nathaniel David Rowland.
- Rowland was charged with murder and kidnapping on Saturday after he returned to the Five Points area.
- Police said they found blood and a cell phone in the back seat of Rowland's car, and both turned out to belong to Josephson. 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 released a cause for Josephson of death as “multiple sharp force injuries” for Samantha Josephson following an autopsy.
- According to a warrant for Rowland's arrest, Josephson suffered "numerous wounds" to her head, neck, face, upper body, leg and foot. Police have not said what was used to cause the wounds.
WHAT WE DON'T KNOW: Several questions remain unanswered -- or their answers remain undisclosed to the public. Authorities haven't said if they know why Rowland allegedly picked up Josephson. They haven't said why he allegedly returned to the Five Points area?
The State newspaper reported that Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook told reporters after a Saturday night press conference that a woman was in the car at the time of Rowland's arrest, and she was cooperating with police. Nothing about her identity, relationship to Rowland or circumstances has been released.
Perhaps most importantly: We don't know what allegedly prompted Rowland to attack Josephson so violently. He has no known criminal record of similar violence.
South Carolina representative Seth Rose in a tweet took to heart the message from Samantha's father Seymour that he is making rideshare safety part of his mission in life.
"Educating, getting that out. And hopefully putting pressure on Uber and Lyft." Seymour Josephson said. "What we have learned is that you cannot, men or women, you guys have to travel together," Seymour Josephson said at a vigil at USC for his daughter.
Rose said in a message on his Twitter account he is introducing legislation requiring rideshare vehicles to be identified by illuminated signage. The bill will be named the Samantha L. Josephson Ridesharing Safety Act.
USC also asked students to pledge use caution when using ridesharing services by making sure any vehicles picking them up match the descriptions given in the services' app, and by asking for the drivers' names.
A noon funeral was set for Wednesday at Congregation Beth Chaim, 329 Village Road East in the Princeton Junction section of West Windsor. Burial will follow at Perrineville Cemetery in the Perrineville section of Millstone in Monmouth County. The temple is where Samantha Josephson became a Bat Mitzvah.
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