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Parents of Murdered College Student 'Express Solidarity With LGBTQ Community'

Blaze

Blaze Bernstein's parents wonder if their son was killed in a hate crime.

Nbroverman

Samuel Woodward, 20, is officially being charged with the murder of Blaze Bernstein, a 19-year-old Ivy League pre-med student stabbed to death this month in a California park. If found guilty, Woodward could face 26 years to life.

(RELATED: Rumors, a Gay Kiss, and a Teenager's Murder)

The two young men were classmates at the Orange County School of the Arts but didn't appear to be close. At the time of his death, Bernstein was attending the University of Pennsylvania but was home visiting his parents over the holiday break. Snapchat records show that Woodward picked up Bernstein from his parents' home January 2. Bernstein later went missing, and his body was found in a local park; he was stabbed over 20 times.

Orange County officials have not made Woodward's alleged motive clear, but the young man told police that Bernstein kissed him in the park (California banned the so-called gay panic defense in 2014). Complicating the story are text messages from June that show Bernstein telling friends Woodward actually hit on him.

Bernstein's parents expressed concern that their son was killed in a hate crime.

Gideon Bernstein and Jeanne Pepper Bernstein wrote in an email to the Los Angeles Times, "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. ... 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 of [a] hate crime."

Blaze Bernstein was pursuing a major in psychology and minor in chemistry, with an intention to enter medical school after graduation. He was recently named the managing editor of Penn Appetit, a food magazine at the University of Pennsylvania.

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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.