The parents of the deceased student Blaze Bernstein said it was possible that his son was the victim of a hate crime after new details about his murder surfaced.
A police source told The Times that they found Bernstein with more than 20 stab wounds, inflicted by a former high school classmate. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case publicly.
Samuel Woodward, 20, was arrested Friday on suspicion of Bernstein's murder after DNA tests at the crime scene in Borrego Park and inside his car he was tied to the murder, authorities said.
The authorities have not revealed a motive for the murder. But the source said that Woodward has claimed that Bernstein had kissed him.
"We are sad to hear, the day we arrested our son, the horrifying details of the cause of his death were published," wrote Gideon Bernstein and Jeanne Pepper Bernstein. He wrote: "Our son was a beautiful and gentle soul whom we love more than anything, we were proud of everything he did and what he was, he had nothing to hide, we are in solidarity with our son and the LGBTQ community."
They noted that the investigation was continuing. "If it is determined to be a hate crime, we will mourn not only for our son, but for LGBTQ people everywhere who live in fear or who have been victims of [a] detest crime," they wrote.
the synagogue of the University of Irvine on Monday, Rabbi Arnold Rachlis directed more than 500 people in a tribute to Bernstein.
Rachlis' voice trembled with emotion when he launched the 90-minute service with these words: "We are gathered here today because this is a death we never expected and still hard to believe."
Bernstein was praised as a pleasant, sensitive and innovative young man whose passion for cooking and gourmet writing intersected in his work as executive editor of Penn Appetit, a student-run food magazine.
Bernstein, 19, was reported missing on January 3 by his family, who worried after he did not show up for a dentist appointment and found his wallet and glasses in his room. He was on a winter vacation at the University of Pennsylvania and was visiting his parents in Lake Forest when he disappeared.
Detectives used Bernstein's Snapchat account to identify Woodward, who had picked him up the night before, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said Friday. .
Bernstein's body was found on January 10 near the park, after the rainwater exposed parts of the remains. The researchers refused to discuss the condition of his body or how he could have died.
Barnes said investigators found inconsistencies in what Woodward told authorities.
An affidavit of search, obtained by the Orange County Register, said that Woodward had scratches and abrasions on his hands and dirty fingernails, and that he said he could not remember the last name or address of a girlfriend who said he had visited after to leave Bernstein. The
When asked about the abrasions by the detectives, Woodward said that they were from a "wrestling club" in which he participated and that his nails were dirty because he fell into a "mud puddle" during the bout.
Barnes said DNA The results led to the arrest of Woodward, 20, on suspicion of murder. He was under surveillance and was taken into custody after leaving home around 1:15 p.m. Friday.
Barnes said that Bernstein and Woodward had attended the same high school, identified in the order as the Orange County School of the Arts.
Dist. Orange County Atty. Tony Rackauckas described the murder on Friday as a "very tragic case" and added that "according to all reports, both families are good people whose lives have been disrupted in a terrible way."
"Both are in duel situations," said Rackauckas.
Woodward plans to appear in court on Tuesday
Bernstein's parents said in their email on Tuesday that "now is the time to put aside fear, ignorance and judgment." It is time to love. Love each other. Be good. Do good and honor Blaze's memory "