A man accused of stabbing a 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania student almost two dozen times and then burying him in a grave at a California park reportedly told police his alleged victim made advances on him and kissed him on the lips.
Meanwhile, Bernstein's parents - Gideon and Jeanne - issued a statement expressing dismay at media reports about the cause of their son's death.
"We won't succumb to hate, bitterness, or disillusionment; we will use wisely the time we have left together", Bernstein's family wrote on a website created in his memory. He is accused of picking up 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein from his family's Lake Forest home, then stabbing him "multiple times" with a knife before burying his remains in Borrego Park in Lake Forest.
Woodward later told investigators Bernstein went into the park and did not return.
Orange county prosecutors officially charged a Newport Beach, California, man with murder on Weds. morning, in connection the death of Ivy League college student, Blaze Bernstein. Woodward drove Bernstein to a shopping center parking lot on Portola Parkway in Foothill Ranch before the slaying, the district attorney said.
Woodward said the kiss was unwanted and that he pushed Bernstein away.
Bernstein texted two female friends about a June interaction with Woodward, according to the affidavit. Bernstein, a University of Pennsylvania sophomore, was home in Lake Forest on winter break.
Police first identified Woodward as a person of interest after following a trail of messages found on Bernstein's social media accounts, including correspondence on Snapchat the night before his disappearance.
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Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, in a Wednesday moring news conference, said sheriff's investigators were led to Woodward through "old-fashion detective work and surveillance", as well as a sophisticated examination of physical, digital and DNA evidence.
Documents show the suspect, Samuel Lincoln Woodward, used a gay slur to describe their son while talking to Orange County Sheriff's investigators. "We were proud of everything he did and who he was".
"We are in solidarity with our son and the LGBTQ community", the Bernsteins added.
The county's top prosecutor made a point of saying Woodward was 6-foot- 2 and weighed 185 pounds and Bernstein was 5-foot-8 and weighed 135 pounds.
Blaze Bernstein is seen in a photo released by the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
Bernstein disappeared around 11 p.m. January 2 at Borrego Park in Lake Forest. He said he returned to the park hours later to look for Bernstein.
Woodward was arrested Friday after crime lab technicians determined that blood found on a sleeping bag in his possession belonged to Bernstein, the Register learned.
Police said, according to the affidavit, during their questioning, Woodward couldn't remember his girlfriend's last name or where she lived. Woodward also had scratches and abrasions on his hands, which he attributed to a "fight club" in which he was involved, and dirt under his fingernails that he said was the result of falling into a mud puddle.