21-year-old Samantha Josephson was last seen by security cameras entering a black vehicle, and later her body found by hunters near a rural area. The University of South Carolina student ordered an Uber at 2:00 a.m. after a night out with friends. She was last seen getting into a Chevy Impala downtown Columbia, which she thought was her Uber. Unfortunately, Josephson was mistaken.
14 hours after she was seen getting into the vehicle, Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook stated that Josephson’s body had been found by turkey hunters in Clarendon County, a rural area 65 miles southeast of Columbia. Josephson was first reported missing after her friends became concerned the next day, after not hearing from her that afternoon. Her cause of death has not yet been revealed, but the suspect has been arrested in relation to her murder. 24-year-old Nathalian David Rowland was charged with murder and kidnapping.
Holbrook stated police believe Josephson had no way of getting out of the vehicle since Rowland had activated the child safety locks to prevent her from jumping out once she could see that she had made the mistake. After watching surveillance footage and tracking down the vehicle, authorities pulled over Rowland while driving the black Chevrolet Impala. The man initially tried to flee the scene but was caught by the police.
When searching the vehicle, police discovered Josephson’s blood in the trunk and in the backseat, found a container of liquid bleach, germicidal wipes and window cleaner in the vehicle. Josephson’s cell phone was also found in the passenger compartment. Besides his initial two charges, Rowland also faces two misdemeanor charges for failing to stop on police commandant for simple possession of marijuana.
Authorities reached out to Uber, but the company declined to comment on the situation. Uber’s online safety tips advise customers to always check the license plates match the number on your phone, as well as the driver photo and driver name. Uber rides can only be requested through the app, so it is important to never enter a car with a driver who claims to be with Uber and offers a ride.
Another tip you can use if you feel you are in danger is to share your trip details with a friend. While en route, you can click the “share status” on the home screen to share your driver’s name, photo, license place and location with a friend. They can track your trip and see what you estimated time of arrival is, even without downloading the app.
There is also a new panic button that was introduced last year, which is located in a new “safety center” menu that is easy accessible from the app’s home screen. This allows riders a quick way to contact first responders in the event something seems suspicious. The safety center also includes information about driving screening process, insurance protection and community guidelines.