Samuel Woodward, the 20-year-old suspected killer of University of Pennsylvania student Blaze Bernstein, has been charged with one felony count of murder with a sentence enhancement for using a knife, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas announced Wednesday.
"This is a senseless murder of a young man," Rackauckas said during the news conference
Bernstein, a 19-year-old freshman psychology student, disappeared Jan. 2 after driving to Borrego Park in Lake Forest with Woodward. The two had attended school together at the Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana, Calif.
Woodward could face between 26 years to life in prison, according to the LA Times.
A weeklong search for Bernstein ended with his body found in the bottom of a shallow grave close to his family's home in Southern California, Officials said he been stabbed nearly 20 times.
Woodward became a suspect in the case after investigators spotted scratches on his body and dirt under his fingernails that he said appeared after he fell in a "mud puddle," the Associated Press reported from the court affadavit.
The district attorney's office did not elaborate on details of the case aside from the murder charge, and noted that the investigation is "ongoing" and further information would be shared during the preliminary hearing.
A former teacher and a classmate have described Woodward as humorless and strange.
Bernstein's parents released a statement Tuesday describing the circumstances of their son's death as a possible hate crime.