A MAN has been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and murdering a student who cops say got into a mystery car thinking it was her Uber.
Nathaniel David Rowland was pulled over by police early on Saturday morning allegedly driving the same Chevrolet Impala that Samantha Josephson, 21, got into in Colombia, South Carolina, on Friday.
Samantha Josephson was last seen talking on the phone before getting into a mystery car[/caption]
Rowland, 24, tried to evade capture but was caught on foot, police say.
Samantha, a student at the University of South Carolina, was last seen on CCTV in the Five Points area at 2am talking on the phone before getting into a black car.
Detectives said she had just ordered a lift on the popular hail-a-ride app – but the real Uber driver later cancelled the journey after she failed to show up.
Samantha’s body was discovered by turkey hunters in a rural spot in nearby Claredon County later later on Friday as her desperate family and friends searched for her.
Cops say her blood and mobile phone were found in Rowland’s car – which was pulled over at around 3am on Saturday – as well as bleach and cleaning equipment.
It also had the child locks engaged, according to police – meaning anyone sitting in the back would be unable to get out.
The suspect previously lived in the area where Samantha’s body was found, cops claimed.
Speaking last night, Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook said: “This is a homicide investigation.”
He added: “Our hearts are broken.
“It’s never easy to stand before a family and explain how a loved one was murdered.
“Words can’t describe what they’re going through.”
I will miss and love my baby girl for the rest of life
The arrest comes after Samantha’s devastated dad Seymour Josephson revealed his daughter’s death in an emotional Facebook post.
He wrote: “It is with … a broken heart that I post this!
“I will miss and love my baby girl for the rest of life.
“I could continue to write about her, but it kills me.
“I sit here and cry while looking at the picture and write this.”
He was referring to a picture of him and a smiling Samantha posing on a couch with her arm wrapped around his shoulders.
Yesterday, the University of South Carolina’s president also confirmed that Samantha – a senior political science major from Robbinsville, New Jersey – had died.
Harris Pastides wrote: “It is with the heaviest of hearts that I write these words this morning.
“Our prayers are with the family and friends of Samantha following the devastating news of her death”.
Vickie Lawson wrote: “A pain no parent should ever have to bear. Praying for your family, friends and the Robbinsville community.”
The mayor of Robinsville, a township of 13,000 near Trenton, also posted condolences, writing: “Our thoughts, prayers, boundless grief and endless support are with Seymour, Marci and Sydney at this unimaginable time.”
Uber has not commented on the case but warns riders that they should ensure they are getting in the right vehicle.
The app notifies users of the registration number of their taxi – and provides the name and a picture of their driver.
Wade Stormer, Uber’s law enforcement liaison, wrote in a blog post: “In cases when you are helping someone request a ride through Uber who may have had a few drinks or is unfamiliar with the app, help them double check that the driver and vehicle match the details in the app — before they get in the car.”
The college newspaper, The Daily Gamecock, said Josephson left a bar called the Bird Dog alone after being out with friends Friday.
Throughout the day on Friday, Samantha’s friends and family were unable to get in touch with her and an urgent search was launched.
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Surveillance images released by the Columbia Police Department show the final image of Samantha before she disappeared.
She was seen wearing an orange shirt and black pants, and talking on the phone.
The surveillance cameras also captured images of the car she got into by mistake.
One of her pals said Josephson was due to head to Drexel University Law School in Philadelphia next term.
Samantha Josephson disappeared in Columbia early on Friday morning after a night out with friends[/caption]
The politics student with her brokenhearted father Seymour Josephson[/caption]
Samantha got into this car after calling for an Uber, say police. The same car was allegedly being driven by suspect Nathaniel Rowland when he was arrested[/caption]
Samantha pictured during a visit to Paris last February[/caption]
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