The accused killer of Blaze Bernstein, a University of Pennsylvania student who was slain earlier this year in California, has been charged with a hate crime.
Authorities in Orange County say Samuel Lincoln Woodward — a member of a neo-Nazi group — killed Bernstein for being gay.
Bernstein, a Penn psychology student who was visiting his Southern California hometown on winter break, disappeared Jan. 2 after driving to Borrego Park in Lake Forest with Woodward. After a weeklong search, Orange County investigators found his body in a shallow grave. He had been stabbed numerous times.
"We live in a world where hate is real," Bernstein's parents, Gideon and Jeanne Bernstein, said in a statement from the Orange County District Attorney's Office announcing the charges. "We continue to look towards the future and what we can do to make a difference."
Woodward and Bernstein both attended the Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana, Calif.
Woodward told authorities that Bernstein had tried to kiss him on the lips just hours before the Penn student's disappearance, an affidavit obtained by the Orange County Register said. Authorities said an examination of Woodward's cell phone, laptop, and social media "revealed the dark side of Woodward's thoughts and intentions."