People.com reports that a man has been arrested in California in connection with the murder of his high school friend. Blaze Bernstein, 19, went missing on January 3, and his body was found near a park in Lake Forest, California. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department arrested Blaze’s high school friend, Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, under suspicion of homicide.
No motive has been determined in the case. Blaze was a student at the University of Pennsylvania, and went missing while visiting his parents in California over Christmas break.
Investigators interviewed Woodward, who said he and Blaze met another friend at the park where Blaze’s body was found in a shallow grave, says People. Woodward claimed that Blaze walked away by himself and could not be found an hour later. He also told police that he returned to search for Blaze but could not locate him.
Woodward is being held by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and is scheduled in court January 17. It is unclear whether he has retained an attorney.
Authorities haven’t released a motive for the murder, and don’t know how the two men were friends or what they were doing at the park. They also believe Woodward acted alone, despite his telling them they were meeting a third party that day. Woodward is cooperating with the investigation, but has not confessed to the murder.
Blaze was reported missing by his family after he missed a dental appointment. They last saw him at dinner on January 3. A week-long search ensued before his body was found in the brush by the park.
Blaze was a pre-med student and recently became the managing editor of a food magazine on campus. His family stated that he was brilliant student, and intended to declare a major in psychology with a minor in chemistry.
*Photo credit Ken Steinhardt/The Orange County Register