The Booster

Classmate Charged with Murder in Ivy League Stabbing

Rebecca Scheller, Junior Staff Writer

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Not commonly discussed in the media is the fact that hate crimes towards the L.G.B.T community have surpassed all other minorities in the last ten years. It has reached a high that these lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are two times more likely to be targeted than African-Americans. In addition, the rate of these hate crimes have exceeded that on crimes against the Jewish. Recently in the news a young college student was murdered for what seems to be a hateful crime against his religion and sexual orientation.

The 19-year-old Ivy League student, Blaze Bernstein had been traveling from Pennsylvania University to his home in Southern California to visit family. When messaged by an old high school classmate, Samuel Lincoln Woodward, on January 2 asking to go out, they decided to meet up. Blaze was reported missing January 3.

On January 12 in Borrego Park, California, the remains of Blaze were found buried in a shallow grave. The young college student had been stabbed more than 20 times. According to Orange County authorities DNA and digital communications were discovered tying 20-year-old Samuel Woodward to the homicide.

After Blaze was reported missing, officials arrested and interviewed Woodward; they described him as nervous and with hands covered in scratches along with dirt under his fingernails. Woodward then became the primary suspect due to evidence and inconsistencies in his story. Additional evidence was found on Woodward’s social media accounts showing he spread white supremacy and neo-Nazi messages. In addition, his posts repeatedly showed an ideology that was homophobic and anti-semitic. Which officials believe points to him having anger towards Blaze because he was Jewish and a member of the L.G.B.T community. There has been no identifiable motive for the murder, only speculations. According to many sources investigators were told by Woodward that Bernstein had kissed him on the lips while they were out that night, January 2. Woodward says—through clenched jaw and fists— that it was very much unwanted so he pushed him away and also added during the interview how he wanted to call him a “faggot.” Later in the investigation Woodward told authorities he drove Bernstein to the park that night and he walked in alone so Woodward left to visit his girlfriend, saying he did not see Bernstein or have contact with him again after. It was discovered Woodward would not release the name of said girlfriend or her residence because he could not remember.

Recently prosecutors have filed one felony count of murder, with a sentence enhancement for using a knife against the victim Blaze Bernstein. According to the Orange County Register if Woodward is convicted of the charge he could face 26 years to life in prison.

This crime has not yet been identified as being motivated by hate. Officials have not released the fact that this young college student Blaze was targeted because he was gay and Jewish. Just as innocent people of the L.G.B.T community who were murdered have been before him. And just as people have been killed for their religion, or race, or anything these bigot people feel is worth ending a life. These acts of killing are irrational and completely filled with unjust rage.

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Classmate Charged with Murder in Ivy League Stabbing