A young man was taken into custody Friday in connection with the death of a University of Pennsylvania student who went missing and was found dead in a Lake Forest park after a week-long search.
Orange County sheriff’s officials were expected to give details of the arrest at an afternoon news conference.
Video from a pair of local television stations showed a person believed to be the suspect being led into the Orange County jail in handcuffs. The suspect’s identity has not been released. It was unclear if the suspect is Blaze Bernstein’s former classmate who drove the 19-year-old man to Borrego Park around 11 p.m. Jan. 2.
Sheriff’s detectives interviewed Bernstein’s friend, who claimed Bernstein wandered into the park then disappeared.
Bernstein’s body was found Tuesday afternoon.
According to a search warrant affidavit obtained by the Orange County Register, the friend said he waited for about an hour and tried to contact Bernstein on Snapchat. He said he then left at around 1 a.m. and drove to his girlfriend’s house in Tustin and then returned to the park at about 3:40 a.m. after Bernstein still had not responded. The friend said Bernstein had complained about his grades in school and “seemed depressed but never said anything about wanting to hurt himself.”
On Jan. 4, two days after Bernstein disappeared, detectives spoke with the friend again at Borrego Park and noticed that his hands had several small scratches and abrasions, according to the affidavit obtained by the Register. The friend said the scratches and abrasions were from a “fight club” that he was involved in.
Investigators also noticed what appeared to be “dirt under the fingernails” on both of the friend’s hands. They asked him how his hands got so dirty and the friend said he “fell into a dirt puddle” during the sparring session.
Detectives noticed that the friend was nervous and was “breathing heavy, talking fast and visibly shaking.”
At one point, the friend opened the doors to his rental car and allowed two detectives to look inside. The detectives noticed hiking and camping equipment in the rear of the vehicle, a large empty plastic bin on the backseat, and a black belt on the passenger seat floorboard.
The friend agreed to be further interviewed at the sheriff’s headquarters in Santa Ana, where his story “stayed fairly consistent.” But, the affidavit says, while he had told investigators that he went to his girlfriend’s home after he left Bernstein in the park, he said he could not remember her last name and did not know where she lived.
“On their way out of Sheriff’s Headquarters, (investigators) noticed every door (the friend) had to touch on the way out of the building he pulled his jacket over his hand to prevent his hand and fingers from touching any part of the doors he touched.”
In other news, police shot a man carrying a gun in Koreatown.