Click here to help Missourians impacted by tornadoes, severe storms
Stay Weather Aware Friday

A South Carolina college student got into a car she thought was her Uber, police say. She was found dead in a field

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Samantha Josephson decided to call an Uber around 2 a.m. Friday after being separated from her roommates during a night out in Columbia, South Carolina, police said Saturday.

The 21-year-old University of South Carolina senior hopped into a black Chevy Impala, thinking it was her ride, Columbia Police Chief W.H. “Skip” Holbrook said during a news conference.

About 14 hours later, turkey hunters found her body in a field 90 miles from Columbia, he said.

“What we know now is that she had, in fact, summoned an Uber ride and was waiting for that Uber ride to come,” Holbrook said, citing surveillance footage. “We believe that she simply mistakenly got into this particular car thinking it was an Uber ride.”

Holbrook said he spoke with Josephson’s family prior to the press conference.

“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,” he said. “It was gut wrenching, words really can’t describe what they’re going through.”

Nathaniel David Rowland, 24, has been arrested on charges of murder and kidnapping in connection with Josephson’s death, Holbrook said. He is being held in jail in Columbia. CNN has not determined if he has a lawyer yet.

Rowland also faces two misdemeanor charges for failing to stop on police command and for simple possession of marijuana, Columbia Police Department Public Information Officer Jennifer Timmons said.

Police are also questioning a female acquaintance of Rowland, who was in his vehicle at the time of his arrest, Timmons said.

Timmons said the acquaintance is cooperating with law enforcement and that there is no indication at this time that she was in the vehicle when Josephson got in the car. She does not face any charges from Columbia police at this time.

Chief says student’s blood found in suspect’s car

Holbrook described how the case came together quickly.

Josephson’s roommates began to worry when they hadn’t heard from her later Friday morning. Holbrook said, and they called the police around 1:30 p.m. Friday.

While Columbia police were starting their investigation, turkey hunters found a body around 4 p.m. Friday about 40 feet off a dirt road in a wooded area in Clarendon County, southeast of Columbia, Holbrook said. It was identified as Josephson’s.

Police searched for the car Josephson had gotten into and around 3 a.m. Saturday a Columbia officer saw the Impala and stopped the vehicle, Holbrook said. When the officer asked the driver to get out the car, he ran but was quickly captured, the chief said.

Investigators searched the Impala.

Blood found in the car’s passenger side and trunk was matched to Josephson’s, the chief said, and her cell phone was found in the passenger compartment. Investigators also found a container of liquid bleach, germicidal wipes and window cleaner in the vehicle, he said.

Holbrook also said the child safety locks in the Impala were activated, which would make it difficult for anyone to open the back doors from the inside.

Police haven’t said how Josephson died and have not provided much information about Rowland, except to say he used to live in Clarendon County and knew the area where the body was found.

“Our investigators and agents have a lot more work to do,” Holbrook said.

CNN reached out to Uber Saturday, but the company declined to comment. Uber’s online safety tips advise customers to check that the license plate, driver photo and driver name match what’s listed in the app before getting in the car.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.