Body of Missing Student Found in California Park

Blaze Bernstein case is now a homicide investigation
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2018 3:00 AM CST
Updated Jan 11, 2018 5:33 AM CST
Case of Missing UPenn Student Is Now a Murder Investigation
This undated photo provided by the Orange County Sheriff's Department shows Blaze Bernstein, 19,.   (Orange County Sheriff's Department via AP)

The search for missing University of Pennsylvania sophomore Blaze Bernstein came to a grim end when the 19-year-old's body was found in a park near his parents' home, having apparently been exposed by this week's rainstorms, police in California say. The Orange County Sheriff's Department has not disclosed a cause of death or the condition of the body, but they say the case is now a homicide investigation, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The park, where a friend says he last saw Bernstein the night of Jan. 2, is around a 10-minute walk from his parents' home in Lake Forest. Investigators "are actively following multiple leads, but no suspect is in custody," the sheriff's office said. Police say they believe Bernstein, who was in California for winter break, was killed the night he disappeared.

"Our family is devastated," father Gideon Bernstein said, per the AP, thanking the community for supporting the search effort. A high-school classmate told investigators that after they drove to Borrego Park on Jan. 2, apparently to meet a third classmate, Bernstein walked into the park by himself and did not return. According to a search warrant affidavit seen by the OCRegister, when police spoke to the friend again on Jan. 4, he was "visibly shaking." He told police that scratches and abrasions on his hands were from a "fight club" he was involved in, and that he had dirt under his fingernails because he fell in mud during a sparring session. The friend told police that he went to his girlfriend's home after leaving Bernstein in the park, though he said he couldn't remember her last name or her address, the affidavit states. (Read more California stories.)

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