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Trial set for accused killer of USC student who got into car she thought was her rideshare

Samantha Josephson (copy) (copy)

Samantha Josephson. File/Provided

COLUMBIA — More than two years after a University of South Carolina senior was found dead when she mistakenly got into a car she thought was her Uber ride, her accused killer has a trial date.

Nathaniel Rowland, a 27-year-old from New Zion in Clarendon County, will stand trial for murder July 19 in Columbia, according to online records. Rowland has denied the charges. 

Rowland was denied bond in June 2020 on charges stemming from the death of USC senior Samantha Josephson.

The New Jersey native disappeared soon after leaving a Five Points bar where she was out with some friends in March 2019. She requested an Uber rideshare, authorities said.

Josephson was caught on video from surveillance cameras getting into a black sedan. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary in the video, but her boyfriend testified at the bond hearing that he tracked her phone as it went away from Columbia.

Josephson’s body was discovered the next afternoon by turkey hunters 65 miles east of Columbia in a remote wooded area of Clarendon County.

Her parents said they could not identify the 21-year-old in the morgue after she was stabbed 30 times. She was identified by DNA analysis.

Her debit card was used twice at ATMs after she disappeared, and a suspect tried selling Josephson’s phone at a store for $300, prosecutors and authorities testified during the 2020 hearing.

The evening after she disappeared, Rowland was arrested after he was spotted in a black Chevrolet Impala in Five Points matching the one that picked up Josephson. 

Blood matching Josephson’s was found in the car, authorities testified during the 2020 bond hearing. They also discovered that the child locks in the backseat were activated, which could have trapped someone inside the car, prosecutors said.

Josephson’s parents have led a national effort to get ride-sharing services to help passengers better confirm who is picking them up. Services have added special identification numbers to match drivers with their rides. South Carolina passed a law requiring that ride-share services put license plate numbers on the front windshield.

Follow Andy Shain on Facebook (andyshain12) and Twitter (@andyshain)

Columbia/Myrtle Beach Managing Editor

Andy Shain runs The Post and Courier's newsrooms based in Columbia and Myrtle Beach. He was editor of Free Times and has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Charlotte, Columbia and Myrtle Beach.

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