Death of missing college student from NJ serves as cautionary tale

Posted: Updated:
COLUMBIA, S.C. -

Friends and family continue to mourn the death of University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson, who was killed after she got into a car thinking it was her Uber ride.

Authorities say that the 21-year-old, who was from Robbinsville, was killed by Nathaniel David Rowland. Investigators say that Josephson got into Rowland’s car because she mistook it for her ride-share vehicle. Rowland allegedly had the child safety locks activated so that Josephson could not get out.

Investigators would not say what they think Rowland did to Josephson from the time she got into his black Chevrolet Impala until her body was dumped in woods off a dirt road in Clarendon County about 65 miles away.

Josephson had numerous wounds to her head, neck, face, upper body, leg and foot, according to arrest warrants released Sunday by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. The documents didn't say what was used to attack her.

RELATED: Communities mourn college student found dead in S. Carolina 

Police say that they found her cellphone, along with her blood, inside of Rowland’s vehicle.

Rowland did not attend his first court hearing, but Josephson’s mother did.

"There are no words to describe the immense pain his actions have caused our family and friends. He's taken away a piece of our heart and soul and life. Shame on him. We elected to be here to see his evil face,” Marci Josephson said. “I cannot fathom how someone could randomly select a person, a beautiful girl, and steal her life away."

The Columbia, South Carolina community held a vigil for Josephson following her death, at which her father spoke. Seymour Josephson warned the crowd about the potential dangers of traveling alone while intoxicated.

"You guys have to travel together, at night. Let's be honest, you guys are drinking, leaving the bar or whatever it may be. You get into an Uber - you don't know if it's an Uber. You don't know anything about it,” Seymour Josephson said. “If there's two of you, something less likely will happen. Samantha was by herself. She had absolutely no chance, none."

Uber has not publicly commented on the death – but safety tips on the company’s website say that the app will show the Uber driver’s name, photograph, make and model of the vehicle and the license plate number. The website says that customers should always double-check this information before getting into a vehicle.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster also weighed in on the tragedy, saying, "We should attempt to learn from events that we must help take care of each other. We must be careful, we must be strong, we must know what we're doing. But there are people out there who are determined to find a way to hurt other people, to take things from them including their lives.”

Robbinsville Mayor Dave Fried says that the Robbinsville community will hold a candlelight vigil Tuesday at the TC Lake Gazebo at 7 p.m.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday in Princeton Junction.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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