21-year-old Samantha Josephson went missing and was found lifeless by turkey hunters after her body was left in a rural spot.
A few hours later, 24-year-old Nathaniel David Rowland was caught after being pulled by police driving the same vehicle she was last seen in.
He was arrested over the murder and kidnap of the woman who mistakenly got into his vehicle thinking it was her Uber. Her cellphone and blood were also found in his black Chevy Impala, police said.
Officers said there was a child safety seat in the back of the vehicle and the safety locks were on, meaning it was impossible for her to escape.
CCTV footage showed Samantha getting into his vehicle at around 2 am on Friday after leaving a night out with friends in the Five Points area. The student left the bar alone and was seen getting into the black Chevy Impala she and her friends thought was the Uber she contacted.
When her actual Uber driver arrived only a few minutes later, the driver canceled the appointment when Samantha did not show up, witnesses reported.
Surveillance photos shared by the Columbia Police Department revealed the last image of the student before she vanished.
Her family and friends couldn’t get in touch with her throughout the day and a search was launched.
“She had, in fact, summoned an Uber ride. She was waiting for that Uber ride to come, we believe. She simply mistakenly got into this car thinking it was an Uber ride,” said Columbia Police Department Chief Skip Holbrook.
“Our hearts are broken, they’re broken. There is nothing tougher than to stand before a family and explain how a loved one was murdered. It was gut wrenching, words really can’t describe what they’re going through.”
President Harris Pastides wrote in a statement: “It is with the heaviest of hearts that I write these words this morning. Our prayers are with the family and friends of Samantha Josephson following the devastating news of her death.”
Uber urges riders to always check the information provided in the app, which shows the driver’s name and photo, and also the plate number and model of the car.
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