The father of a University of South Carolina student who police say was kidnapped and killed after she got into the wrong car thinking it was her Uber has promised to dedicate his life to improving the safety of ridesharing services.
Friends and family of Samantha Josephson remembered the 21-year-old as a ball of energy who brightened every room and was ready to head to law school.
At about 1.30am on Friday, authorities say, Josephson got separated from friends in Columbia’s Five Points bar district. So she called an Uber to take her home.
The first dark car Josephson went up to was not her ride, said her father, Seymour Josephson. So she jumped into a similar-looking car.
“Samantha was by herself,” her father said Sunday night at a candlelight vigil in Columbia. “She had absolutely no chance. None. The door was locked, the child safety locks were on. She had absolutely no chance.”
Nathaniel David Rowland, 24, is charged with kidnapping and murder. According to arrest warrants, after Josephson got into his car he attacked her, causing numerous wounds to her head, neck, face, upper body, leg and foot. The documents do not say what was used to attack her.
Josephson’s blood and cellphone were found in Rowland’s car the next night when he was arrested two blocks away from Five Points, authorities said.
Josephson’s body was found in Clarendon county, about 65 miles from Columbia, police said. Rowland remains in the Richland county jail. It is not known if he has a lawyer.
Safety advocates say ridesharing services will send a description of the vehicle, its license number and a photo of the driver and recommend passengers check such information before getting inside. They also suggest requiring the driver give the name of the person requesting the ride as an extra level of safety.
Seymour Josephson told his daughter’s friends they should always take rides or walking around town in groups of two or more because there is safety in numbers.
“If there is somebody else in that car, there is actually a chance,” said Seymour Josephson, who said he planned to speak to ridesharing services about better-identifying their vehicles.
Josephson’s boyfriend, Greg Corbishley, said he saw a future with her and remembered their last conversation on Thursday.
“Even in the short time she was here, how many people she positively impacted with her energy,” he said.
Josephson’s parents said they had planned to come to Columbia on Saturday to see their daughter in the city and the university she loved before she graduated in May and moved on to law school at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
They still came, but while her father went to the candlelight vigil her mother was at the Richland county jail for a hearing. Rowland decided not to appear, but a judge gave Marci Josephson a chance to talk. She called Rowland evil and remembered her daughter as “bubbly, loving, kind and full of life”.
“Unlike him, Samantha valued human life, and could never harm another soul,” Marci Josephson said. “Unlike him, Samantha had love within her heart, and a purpose in her life, the life he brutally ended.”