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January 23, 2018

Penn student's alleged killer pictured mimicking 'curb stomp' from 'American History X'

Orange County prosecutors still investigating possible hate crime charges against Samuel Woodward

Investigations Homicide
01172018_Bernstein_Woodward Credits/ / Orange County (Calif.) Prosecutor's Office

Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, right, is charged in the murder of University Pennsylvania student Blaze Bernstein, left, in California.

New details about the California man accused of killing University of Pennsylvania sophomore Blaze Bernstein earlier this month suggest the victim's former classmate idolized symbols of white nationalism and may have been motivated by anti-Semitism.

Authorities in Orange County last week charged 20-year-old Samuel Woodward in the fatal stabbing of Bernstein, 19, who disappeared Jan. 2 while home visiting his family for winter break in Lake Forest. The pre-med student's remains were found in a shallow grave at Borrego Park a week after he went missing, with DNA evidence and digital communications linking Woodward to his death, police said..

Days after police identified Woodward as a person of interest, reports surfaced he had a history of violent remarks on various social media platforms. A search warrant affidavit also referenced a possible sexual encounter and disagreement between Woodward and Bernstein on the night of the disappearance.

A recent report from the New York Post brings to light several examples of Woodward's alleged extremism, including statements from those knowledgeable about his social media activity.

On iFunny, a popular app for sharing humorous snaps, Woodward allegedly ran a now-deleted account with the username "Saboteur."

In one snap, a source told the Post, Woodward staged the moment before a gruesome scene in the 1998 drama "American History X," where Ed Norton plays a neo-Nazi skinhead. The scene shows Norton "curb-stomping" a man's face.

In another snap, Woodward was allegedly seen in a commencement photo with his high school English teacher, a woman of Indian or Middle Eastern descent. 

“I would vigorously bone the living hell out of my English teacher, like holy f***. I don’t care if it’s miscegenation. That babe would be pregnant as f*** year after year, around the clock, acting as a hub of genetic imperialism and giving life to half arab Saboteur-offspring to further my conquest and aims.”

Multiple sources on the app told the Post that Woodward used his account to spread white supremacist and neo-Nazi messages. One source said anti-Semitism and homophobia were frequently evident in Woodward's ideological post's on the app's iPolitics section. 

Bernstein, who was Jewish, identified with the LGBTQ community and was accused by Bernstein of trying to kiss him on the night the Penn student dissappeared. 

"We were proud of everything he did and who he was. He had nothing to hide," Bernstein's parents said in a statement last week. "We are in solidarity with our son and the LGBTQ community. 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 of hate crime."

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said his office has not ruled out the possibility of hate crime charges if investigators determine there is sufficient evidence Woodward's views were a factor in the alleged stabbing. Bernstein was found with more than 20 stab wounds. 

"We're going to bring the maximum charges that we can bring based on the evidence," the prosecutor said.

Bernstein's parents have urged those following the case to do good for their son in honor of his own aspirations in the world.