South Carolina

USC confirms death of missing 21-year-old student

Missing University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson has died, the school confirmed Saturday morning.

USC President Harris Pastides released a statement about Josephson’s death, saying, “Times like these leave me searching for words of wisdom and comfort.”

“Our prayers are with the family and friends of Samantha Josephson following the devastating news of her death,” Pastides wrote. “It has been a difficult week for our extended Carolina family. The loss of a student is never easy but this has been a particularly painful few days as we have experienced loss on several of our campuses. As a family, let’s continue to pray for all the families experiencing heartache and grief this week.”

The Columbia Police Department announced that Josephson’s body was found Friday afternoon in rural Clarendon County by hunters. One suspect — Nathaniel David Rowland, 25 — was arrested early Saturday morning and charged with murder and kidnapping, police said.

Police had announced Friday that Josephson, a 21-year-old senior, went missing in the early hours of the morning, urging people to call with information about her or the black Chevy Impala she was last seen getting into.

On Saturday morning, Josephson’s father posted on Facebook that Samantha “is no longer with us but she will not be forgotten.”

“It is with tremendous sadness and of a broken heart that I post this! I will miss and love my baby girl for the rest of life,” Seymour Josephson wrote. “It is extremely hard to write this and post it but I love her with all my heart. I could continue to write about her but it kills me. I sit here and cry while looking at the picture and write this.”

Seymour Josephson’s Facebook post had around 15,000 interactions by early afternoon Saturday.

According to Columbia police, Josephson was last seen by friends between 1:30 and 2 a.m. Friday at 715 Harden St. in Five Points.

“When she didn’t show up at her downtown residence and didn’t answer repeated phone calls, her friends became concerned and notified CPD,” police said in a statement.

A group of friends were in Five Points on Friday night, showing Josephson’s photo to people and asking if they’d seen her. Jordyn Spencer, one of those friends, said they believed that Josephson got into the wrong vehicle after calling for a ride share service.

“We’re making sure everyone is checking their (ride share service car) before they get in,” Spencer said.

Josephson was a senior political science major, set to graduate in May, Spencer said. She was preparing to go to Drexel University law school in Philadelphia.

In Pastides’ statement he said to “remember the tenets of Stand Up Carolina: look out for one another, be active bystanders. Travel in groups and stay together.” Pastides encouraged people to download the RAVE Guardian Safety App.

This is the second death of a USC student this week, following a death by suicide.

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David Travis Bland won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2017 Judson Chapman Award for community journalism. As The State’s crime, police and public safety reporter, he strives to inform communities about crimes that affect them and give deeper insight into victims, the accused and law enforcement. He studied history with a focus on the American South at the University of South Carolina.