Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Jewish UPenn Student Blaze Bernstein Found Dead, Homicide Investigation Launched

Jewish UPenn Student Blaze Bernstein Found Dead, Homicide Investigation Launched

Students at the University of Pennsylvania woke up to devastating news on Wednesday: Blaze Bernstein, a 19-year-old sophomore who had been reported missing for a week, had been found dead in a park in California.

Sheriffs said Bernstein's body was found in brush near Foothill Ranch Park.

Bernstein, 19, went missing overnight on January 2 after he and the friend reportedly had met up that night and later drove to Borrego Park, near Bernstein's parents' home in Foothill Ranch, roughly 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles. A vigil is planned for Wednesday night there, His parents say they have set up a memorial fund for their son and that if anyone wants to honor him, they can make donations to the Blaze Bernstein Memorial Fund at the Jewish Community Foundation Orange County (jcfoc.org) to help children and families in need. Officials confirmed the case is being investigated as a homicide, and an autopsy will be performed Wednesday. Information about the condition of the body is also not being released at this time, nor is information about suspected persons.

While there are no suspects in custody, police are saying they're following multiple leads.

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Investigators also said that the friend seemed unsettled.

Bernstein had left his parents' Orange County home a week ago and was driven by a friend to the park. The friend allegedly said the scratches were from a "fight club" he was involved in, and that he had fallen into a dirt puddle.

The friend agreed to an interview at the sheriff's headquarters in Santa Ana, where the affidavit says his story "stayed fairly consistent", though he told detectives he couldn't remember the last name of the girlfriend he said he visited after Bernstein's disappearance and didn't know where she lived.

Mr Bernstein's parents last saw the University of Pennsylvania student after a friend picked him up in his auto following a dinner at home with his family. That friend said Bernstein went into the darkness alone and never came back. Investigators are treating his death as a homicide.

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Josselyn said she recruited Bernstein when she was visiting his high school in California, and became his adviser to help him maintain his creative writing talents while his academic life focused on science.

Eventually, the location device on Bernstein's phone stopped functioning and the phone was turned off, Della Donna said."He didn't have anything with him, " she said.

"Needless to say, our family is devastated by the news".

He was the incoming managing editor of the student-run food magazine, wrote opinion columns for the student newspaper The Daily Pennsylvanian, and was also a copy associate for the arts and culture magazine of The Daily Pennsylvanian, she said. "We - like so many of you around the world - love Blaze and wanted nothing more than his safe return", Gideon added. Celebrate who and what you have on this special campus.

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