The 21-year-old college senior was killed after getting into a car she mistakenly thought was her Uber ride. She was last seen alive on surveillance video that shows her getting into the vehicle.
Her body was found Friday afternoon in a wooded area about 65 miles from Columbia, South Carolina, where she attended school.
It was just past 2 a.m. Friday when Samantha Josephson decided to part ways with her friends and leave the Bird Dog bar. Then, according to police, the 21-year-old University of South Carolina senior ordered an Uber.
Josephson had been out in Columbia, S.C., in the downtown Five Points district, a popular nightlife hub close the campus.
Surveillance footage shows her walking outside, waiting on the sidewalk and holding her phone. At 2:09 a.m., a black Chevrolet Impala pulled into the parking space beside her and, as pedestrians streamed by, Josephson climbed inside the vehicle.
But the Impala was not her Uber, police said, and the man driving it never took her home. Twelve hours later, Josephson’s friends reported her missing. Two hours after that, authorities found her dead.
Police said the child safety locks of the car Samantha Josephson rode in were engaged, suggesting there was little chance for escape. Her father urged people in the crowd to travel together when using ride-sharing apps.
An autopsy reported that Samantha Josephson died from “multiple sharp force injuries.”
The scenario leading to the murder has left many people who use ride-share apps, especially women, concerned about their safety, realizing how easily anyone could pretend to be a driver for Uber or Lyft.
Uber said the company is working with colleges nationwide on safety measures and plans to partner with the University of South Carolina to further heighten awareness.
Police have arrested 24-year-old Nathaniel D. Rowland on charges of murder and kidnapping, Holbrook said.
Josephson is far from the first person to enter a vehicle believing it was their rideshare.
In Las Vegas, a woman jumped from a moving car after discovering she had entered the wrong vehicle. In Chicago, police warned that fake rideshare drivers scammed passengers out of hundreds of dollars after claiming there was a payment issue. In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a fake Uber driver admitted to police that he had been photographing unconscious women in his car.
This is a mistake anyone could have made, even me. These apps are very popular especially if you’re drunk and can’t drive home. It’s the “safest” so we thought, since our parents did nothing but preach about don’t drink and drive. So if you use these apps just ask the driver “what’s my name?” obviously if it is your driver they will know your name. This is so we don’t get into the wrong car, intoxicated or not. Stay safe out there!