Parents of gay murdered teen suspect attack might have been a hate crime

Samuel Woodward is accused of murdering Blaze Bernstein

The parents of a gay teenager who was stabbed more than 20 times have said they think he might have been murdered in a hate crime.

Blaze Bernstein, 19, was stabbed and buried in a California park.

His parents, Gideon and Jeanne Pepper Bernstein have said they think he may have been killed because of his sexual orientation.

The Orange County Register published an affidavit stating Bernstein had kissed a friend, Samuel Lincoln Woodward.

According to the statement, Woodward, 20, had “wanted to tell Blaze to get off him”.

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It went on to say that he had pushed Bernstein away before they went down to the park.

Of their son, a University of Pennsylvania student, the Bernsteins said: “Our son was a beautiful gentle soul who we loved more than anything.

“We were proud of everything he did and who he was. He had nothing to hide. We are in solidarity with our son and the LGBTQ community.”

They said: “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.”

In their statement, they added: “We are saddened to hear, on the day we laid our son to rest, that gruesome details of the cause of his death were published.”

According to reports, Bernstein was stabbed more than 20 times and was buried in a shallow grave.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Carrie Braun, a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Department said that “the condition of the body at the time it was discovered turned it from a missing person to a homicide immediately.”

The interview with Woodward took place after Bernstein’s parents reported him missing on January 3.

He was later arrested on suspicion of homicide after DNA evidence linked him to the death.

The pair knew each other from high school, and according to the affidavit, Bernstein had possibly been planning to come on to Woodward.

In text messages sent to two female friends in June, Bernstein said he thought Woodward was interested in him.

He wrote that he “hit on me” and that he “made me promise not to tell anyone.”

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY LUIS TORRES Gay pride flags fly from the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street June 23, 2009 in the Greenwich Village section of New York as the community marks the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The disturbances began on the night of June 28, 1969 as a protest by gays against police harassment and helped trigger the modern US gay rights movement. AFP PHOTO/Stan Honda (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)


According to authorities, Bernstein had been visiting his family in Lake Forest when Woodward picked him up on January 2.

They drove around to several locations before going to a park, they said.

An investigator for the Sheriff’s department also said that Woodward seemed nervous, had scratches on his hands and avoided touching doors with his hands when he was leaving the sheriff’s building.

He also listed his occupation as “Nerf games” while in custody.

Authorities took over a week to find Bernstein’s body, with the assistance of drone pilots, they found him on January 9 after it was partially exposed by rainfall.