Authorities arrest friend in death of U Penn student

Cheryl Sanders
January 14, 2018

Blaze Bernstein's body was found Tuesday after an extensive search through Borrego Park in Orange County. Woodward apparently told police he drove Bernstein to the park but did not get out of the auto with him and left when he didn't return.

"Based on inconsistencies in the story of [Woodward], we focussed on him as a suspect", Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes said.

Bernstein, 19, went missing overnight on January 2 after he and the friend reportedly had met up that night and later drove to Borrego Park, near Bernstein's parents' home in Foothill Ranch, roughly 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

Bernstein's body was discovered Tuesday in a shallow grave in a brushy area on the perimeter of the park after a week-long search, investigators said. Bernstein's father said he found these notes and sent them to the executive director, Wharton sophomore Rachel Prokupek, to use this coming year. Relatives said he was going with a high school friend to meet another person at the park the night he disappeared.


At the press conference, Annee Della Donna, an attorney for the Bernstein family said they were grateful for the work of local law enforcement in this past week. "Our words can not express how grateful the family is to for their community", she said.

"Revenge is empty", Bernstein's mother, Jeanne Pepper Bernstein, wrote on Twitter after the arrest was announced.

"Nothing will bring back my son so we ask the world to please honor Blaze's memory by doing an act of kindness today - don't wait - do it now", the grieving mom told the Los Angeles Times. He eventually began sending text messages to Bernstein when he didn't return after an hour. He said the scratches and abrasions were from a "fight club" he was involved in.

On Jan. 4, two days after Bernstein disappeared, detectives spoke with Woodward again at Borrego Park and noticed that his hands had several small scratches and abrasions, according to the affidavit obtained by the Register. They also saw dirt under his nails.


The warrant also stated that the friend was also "breathing heavy, talking fast and visibly shaking".

At one point, Woodward opened the doors to his rental auto and allowed two detectives to look inside, according to the affidavit. Inside the vehicle, officers found camping equipment, a black belt, and a large plastic bin inside.

Debbie Travis Palmer, who knew Bernstein since he was a young child, said that he was "f$3 ull of life, sweet, caring and loyal to his friends". Several celebrities, including Big Bang Theory actress and Lakers legends and, posted about the case as Bernstein's whereabouts were still unknown to the public.

"On their way out of sheriff's headquarters, [investigators] noticed every door [the friend] had to touch on the way out of the building he pulled his jacket over his hand to prevent his hand and fingers from touching any part of the doors he touched", according to the affidavit.


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