Blaze Bernstein was a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania. He was home in Lake Forest for his winter break. He went missing from his southern California Home in January. After a week, Bernstein’s remains were found at a nearby park.
Samuel Woodward has been charged for the murder of Blaze Bernstein. It was reported that, Samuel was a member of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division. He was charged with stabbing his former high school classmate more than 20 times and burying his body in the perimeter of the park.
On the night of Blaze’s missing, Samuel supposedly him picked up from his home. According to a January affidavit, the suspect told the investors that Blaze has tried to kiss him on his night of murder. Samuel said he refused the move and Blaze then left the car.
The Orange County district attorney believes 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein was killed because of his sexual orientation.
Tony Rackauckas, Orange County District Attorney said in a news conference,“Woodward killed Blaze because Blaze was gay.”
The authorities found a large number of texts and images expressing homophobic, anti-Semitic, racist, misogynistic, and antigovernment ideology.
“A hate crime enhancement based on sexual orientation is appropriate due to the evidence developed by looking at Woodward’s cell phone, laptop, and social media. All of this revealed the dark side of Woodward’s thoughts and intentions,” said Rackauckas.
According to the prosecutors, 21-year-old Samuel would face maximum sentence of life without parole if convicted, as this is also a hate-crime. Otherwise he would have faced only 26 years to life maximum without the hate-crime enhancement.
Gideon Bernstein, the father of the victim said, “Today we suffer an added layer of pain from learning [Blaze] was likely killed solely for who he was as a human being.”
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas expressed, “We will prove that Woodward killed Blaze because Blaze was gay.”