Black man charged with killing college student who mistook his car for Uber

Suspect Nathaniel David Rowland, 24, and murder victim Samantha Josephson, 21 (Image source: Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center; Facebook / Samantha Josephson)

A simple mistake of getting into the wrong Uber vehicle has led to the death of a  University of South Carolina student.

Samantha Josephson, 21, had just left a group of friends at a local bar and requested an Uber to take her back home on Friday, March 29, 2019. When a black Chevy Impala pulled up, she got into the vehicle believing her car had arrived. Her friends reported her missing when they returned to their residence and noticed she was not home. Police initiated a search, and some 14 hours later, her body was discovered in a field by turkey hunters off a dirt road.

According to law enforcement officials, Josephson had “numerous wounds evident on multiple parts of her body to include her head, neck, face, upper body, leg, and foot.”

Police poured through surveillance footage of the bar location and identified the suspected vehicle she mistakenly left in. The vehicle was spotted early Saturday morning, and police stopped the driver identified as Nathaniel David Rowland, 24, who was with a female companion. According to the Columbia Police Department, Rowland abandoned the vehicle and attempted to flee on foot, but was quickly apprehended.

When police processed the car, they discovered traces of Josephson’s blood, her cell phone, bleach, window cleaner and germicidal wipes. Rowland was also in possession of a small amount of marijuana. Police have now charged Rowland with the kidnapping and murder of Josephson as well as misdemeanor charges of failing to stop on police command and for simple possession of marijuana.

Columbia Police Chief W. H. “Skip” Holbrook told the media: “What we know now is that she had, in fact, summoned an Uber ride and was waiting for that Uber ride to come. We believe that she simply mistakenly got into this particular car thinking it was an Uber ride.”

Holbrook went on to state that the suspect lived not far from where Josephson was kidnapped and was not a driver for Lyft, Uber or any other rideshare service.

Josephson was due to graduate this year with a degree in political science. Her parents told People magazine that she was going to attend Drexel University in pursuit of a law degree, and they had put down a deposit shortly before her death.

Rowland is being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center and is expected to appear in court this week for arraignment.

Mo Barnes
Mo Barnes

Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician. He has been writing for Rolling Out since 2014. Whether it means walking through a bloody police shooting to help a family find justice or showing the multifaceted talent of the Black Diaspora I write the news.