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A man has been arrested over the murder and kidnap of a student who mistakenly got into his car thinking it was her Uber after her blood and cell phone were found in his vehicle, police say.
Samantha Josephson, 21, went missing in Columbia, South Carolina early on Friday morning. She was found dead by hunters later that day after her body was dumped in a rural spot in nearby Claredon County.
Hours later Nathaniel David Rowland, 24, was arrested after being pulled over by officers driving the car she had been last seen in before trying to flee the scene on foot.
He had been stopped by Columbia police at 3 a.m. Saturday two blocks from the Five Points area.
Samantha's blood and her cell phone were found the black Chevy Impala, as well as bleach and cleaning products, according to police. They said there was a child safety seat in the back of the car and the child safety locks were enabled meaning she would have not been able to escape.
Security footage appears to show Samantha getting into the black Chevy Impala at around 2am on Friday, when she was leaving after a night out with a group of friends in the Five Points area.
She left the bar Bird Dog alone and was spotted getting into the car that she and her friends believed was an Uber that she had ordered, a witness told the Daily Gamecock student newspaper.
When Samantha's actual Uber driver arrived moments later, the driver cancelled the ride when she didn't show up for the pick-up, witnesses said.
Surveillance images released by the Columbia Police Department also show the final image of Samantha before she disappeared. She is seen wearing an orange shirt and black pants, and talking on the phone.
Throughout the day on Friday, Samantha's friends and family were unable to get in touch with her and an urgent search was launched.
Samantha Josephson, 21, is confirmed dead after disappearing in Columbia, South Carolina early on Friday. She is seen left in a family photo and right moments before disappearing
Police say they have now arrested 24-year-old Nathaniel David Rowland after he was pulled over by police driving the car before trying to flee the scene on foot
Samantha got into this car, which she and her friends mistakenly believed was the Uber she had ordered
Samantha's father (with her above) in her hometown of Robinsville, New Jersey also confirmed her passing in a heart-wrenching Facebook post
Samantha's body was said t have been found Black Bottom Road close to the town of New Zion
After a frantic day of searching for the missing University of South Carolina student the school had earlier confirmed she was dead.
'It is with the heaviest of hearts that I write these words this morning. Our prayers are with the family and friends of Samantha Josephson following the devastating news of her death,' wrote President Harris Pastides in a statement.
Samantha's father in her hometown of Robinsville, New Jersey also confirmed her passing in a heart-wrenching Facebook post.
'I will miss and love my baby girl for the rest of life. Samantha is no longer with us but she will not be forgotten,' wrote Seymour Josephson, a sales manager with a technology company.
'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,' Josephson continued.
The mayor of Robinsville, a township of 13,000 near Trenton, posted condolences, writing: 'Our thoughts, prayers, boundless grief and endless support are with Seymour, Marci and Sydney at this unimaginable time.'
Samantha's blood and her cell phone were found Rowland's black Chevy Impala, as well as bleach and cleaning products, according to police. They said the child safety locks were enabled on Rowland's car meaning she would have not been able to escape
Security footage appears to show Samantha getting into the black Chevy Impala at around 2am on Friday. Rowland was arrested driving that car, police say
Columbia Police Department said Nathaniel David Rowland was arrested hours after tragic Samantha's body was found
Samantha is seen with her parents in January 2018 on her way to spend her semester abroad in Barcelona, Spain. She was a political science major
Samantha and her sister Sydney (right) pose together in Barcelona during her semester there
Samantha is seen visiting Paris in February 2018. She was out with friends and got into a car she thought was her Uber when she disappeared
Police say the suspect previously lived in the area where Samantha's body was found.
An Uber spokesman was unable to immediately comment when reached by DailyMail.com.
The company does urge riders to check that the details of the driver and the car match the information in the app, which provides the driver's name and photo, as well as the make and model of the car and a license plate number.
Drivers are also provided the rider's name and should be able to specify who they are picking up when asked.
Samantha (left) is seen in a family photo with her sister Sydney in Barcelona in 2018
Samantha is seen in family photos with her parents. Her death sparked an outpouring of grief on the USC campus as well as in her hometown of Robinsville, New Jersey
'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,' wrote Wade Stormer, Uber's law enforcement liaison, in a blog post.
'Taking the extra step to double check these details is an important safety measure,' he continued.
Anyone with information about Samantha Josephson's disappearance and death is urged to to call South Carolina CrimeStoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.
Dear Carolina Family,
It is with the heaviest of hearts that I write these words this morning. Our prayers are with the family and friends of Samantha Josephson following the devastating news of her death. Times like these leave me searching for words of wisdom and comfort. However, I take solace that the Carolina Family is here to embrace those who are hurting.
As you make plans for the weekend, remember the tenets of Stand Up Carolina: look out for one another, be active bystanders. Travel in groups and stay together. If you have not already done so, download the RAVE Guardian safety app, set up your profile and learn how to use it.
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.