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Crime

Rumors, a Gay Kiss, and a Teenager's Murder

Blaze Bernstein and Samuel Lincoln Woodward
Blaze Bernstein and Samuel Lincoln Woodward

The murder of Blaze Bernstein has shocked California's Orange County, with the pre-med student's high school friend now under arrest.

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Blaze Bernstein -- named after a 17th-century child prodigy and pictured, left -- had a bright future ahead of him as a pre-med student at the University of Pennsylvania.

But that all ended this month when he disappeared in Orange County, Calif., where the 19-year-old was visiting his parents during his holiday break. Days after he failed to show up for a dental appointment on January 3, Bernstein's body was found in a shallow grave in Borrego Park, not far from his parents' home. Bernstein had been stabbed more than 20 times.

A 20-year-old high school classmate, Samuel Lincoln Woodward, was arrested days later. Using Snapchat records, police said they discovered Woodward had picked up Bernstein the night he disappeared. Woodward had scratches on his hands, and his details on what transpired that night were inconsistent.

Text messages from June show Bernstein telling friends that Woodward "hit on me" and "he made me promise not to tell anyone ... but I have texted every one, uh oh."

Yet Woodward told police that Bernstein came on to him in Borrego Park, specifically that he kissed him and Woodward shoved him away, reports TheOrange County Register. When speaking to police, Woodward clenched his jaw and fists, saying "he wanted Blaze to get off of him," according to the paper.

The so-called gay panic defense is illegal in California; it was just banned in Illinois as well.

Woodward is expected in court today where the charges against him should be announced.

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Neal Broverman

Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.
Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.