City of Columbia, South Carolina police officers have arrested a 24-year-old black male named Nathaniel David Rowland in connection with the slaying of a 21-year-old University of South Carolina student.
Rowland – originally from Brooklyn, New York – has been charged with murder and kidnapping in the case, which garnered nationwide attention and shook the Palmetto State to its core on what was supposed to be a sunny, spring weekend.
Samantha Lee Josephson of Robbinsville, New Jersey – a political science major who was less than two months away from graduating – was reported missing by her friends in the early morning hours on Friday, March 29. She was last seen alive at 2:00 a.m. EDT on Friday – standing outside of a bar in the Five Points region of downtown Columbia, S.C., according to footage captured by surveillance cameras.
According to city of Columbia, S.C. police chief Skip Holbrook, Josephson (below) entered a black Chevrolet Impala driven by Rowland shortly after 2:00 a.m. EDT thinking it was an Uber ride she had summoned.
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“She simply mistakenly got into the car thinking it was her Uber,” Holbrook told reporters at a Saturday evening press conference.
Hours later, Josephson’s body was discovered in rural Clarendon County by two hunters – located approximately forty feet off of a dirt road in a wooded area. Clarendon County is located in the Pee Dee region of the state roughly fifty miles southwest of Florence, S.C. – about an hour’s drive from downtown Columbia.
According to Holbrook, the area where Josephson’s body was discovered – off of Black Bottom Road near the town of New Zion, S.C. – was “known to the defendant” and was an area where the defendant “recently resided.”
Upon discovering Josephson’s body, the hunters called deputies with the Clarendon County sheriff’s office, who quickly realized they were dealing with a missing persons case from the capital. At that point, they requested assistance from the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).
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Rowland was apprehended by city of Columbia police officers at around 3:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday – a little over twenty-four hours after Josephson disappeared. According to Holbrook, he was pulled over a few blocks away from Five Points – the site of the kidnapping – after a K-9 officer had been alerted to his car. Rowland attempted to flee on foot after police asked him to step outside of his vehicle (the Impala seen on surveillance videos).
Rowland was detained a brief foot pursuit, Holbrook said. A female companion was reportedly in the car with him at the time of his arrest. The woman was detained in connection with the investigation, but has not been charged and is reportedly cooperating with authorities.
A review of Rowland’s Facebook page revealed several posts apparently made after he allegedly killed Josephson – but before he was apprehended for the crime.
“It’s only one ME,” he wrote in one of the entries, which was posted last Friday. “I just make it look easy until you step in dese (shoes).”
“I’ll love to do it wit ya but I be damn if I can’t do it without ya,” he wrote in another post on Friday afternoon.
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Upon examining the Impala owned by Rowland (above), police observed a “large amount of liquid that we believed to be blood,” according to Holbrook. A warrant to search the car was obtained, and additional blood was reportedly discovered inside the vehicle (and inside its trunk).
“Analysis concluded the blood in the suspect vehicle was that of the victim,” Holbrook said.
To maintain the continuity of this multi-jurisdictional investigation, SLED was summoned to handle the processing of the evidence obtained from the Impala as well as the crime scene in Clarendon County.
Holbrook – flanked at his Saturday news conference by SLED chief Mark Keel and Clarendon County sheriff Tim Baxley – was calm and dispassionate as he updated reporters on the status of the investigation.
His demeanor belied his emotions, however – and the emotions of his officers.
“Our hearts are broken,” Holbrook said “They’re broken.”
“It was gut-wrenching,” he added when discussing the conversations he and his officers had with Josephson’s parents. “Words really can’t describe what they are going through. We are fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. It is just as personal to us and I assured them we will be with them every step of the way until (this investigation) is done.”
Rowland’s case will be prosecuted by the office of S.C. fifth circuit solicitor Byron Gipson.
As with anyone accused of committing any crime, Rowland is considered innocent until proven guilty by our criminal justice system, or until such time as he may wish to enter a plea in connection with the charges filed against him.
UPDATE: The warrants …
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