Former classmate charged with murder in teen’s stabbing death; parents suspect hate crime

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A Southern California prosecutor says the investigation is continuing into the killing of a University of Pennsylvania student even though a murder charge has already been filed against the suspect.

Samuel Woodward, left, is accused of stabbing to death Blaze Bernstein, right, in January 2018. (Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckus told reporters Wednesday that investigators are looking for evidence that would support making the legal case a hate crime.

The current complaint alleges 20-year-old Samuel Woodward murdered 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein and that a knife was used in the crime.

In an affidavit obtained by the Orange County Register, Woodward told investigators he was angry after Bernstein kissed him the night they went to a park.

Bernstein's parents say the killing may have been a hate crime against their gay son.

“Our son was a beautiful, gentle soul who we loved more than anything. We were proud of everything he did and who he was. He had nothing to hide.

“We are in solidarity with our son and the LGBTQ community,” Jeanne and Gideon Bernstein said Monday. “There is still much discovery to be done, and if it is determined that this was a hate crime, we will cry not only for our son, but for LGBTQ people everywhere that live in fear or who have been victims.”

Authorities say Bernstein was visiting his parents during winter break when he went to a park with Woodward Jan. 2. His body was found in a shallow grave there a week later. Woodward was arrested soon after.

Rackauckus says both had attended the Orange County School of the Arts. The district attorney says Woodward communicated with Bernstein by Snapchat on Jan 2 and then picked him up at his parents' house.