Investigators are wanting into whether or not a 20-year-old man, accused of killing an overtly homosexual and Jewish former classmate, has any ties to white supremacist teams, and whether or not these hyperlinks could have performed a task within the grisly killing, officers instructed BuzzFeed Information.
Blaze Bernstein, a 19-year-old College of Pennsylvania pupil, went lacking early this month whereas visiting his household in Southern California. After his physique was discovered on Jan. 9, authorities found he had been stabbed greater than 20 occasions earlier than being left buried in a shallow grave.
Three days later, the Orange County Sheriff’s Division arrested Samuel Woodward on suspicion of murdering Bernstein, a former classmate of his on the Orange County Faculty of the Arts.
Investigators have but to find out a motive for the killing, which officers are wanting into as a attainable hate crime.
Carrie Braun, spokesperson for the Orange County Sheriff’s Division, instructed BuzzFeed Information that investigators have been wanting into Woodward’s attainable ties to white supremacist teams, in addition to different motives that would decide whether or not Bernstein’s killing was a hate crime.
ProPublica reported Thursday that Woodward was an lively member of a bunch referred to as the Atomwaffen Division, a violent white supremacist group that advocates for overthrowing the US authorities.
Citing three folks with information of Woodward’s hyperlinks to the group, together with a former member of the Atomwaffen Division, ProPublica reported that Woodward had joined the group in 2016 and attended a three-day coaching camp that included coaching in firearms, hand-to-hand fight, and survival expertise.
Braun instructed BuzzFeed Information she couldn’t affirm if investigators had confirmed whether or not Woodward had ties to any specific group.
Investigators with each the sheriff’s division and the Orange County District Legal professional’s workplace are nonetheless investigating the case, she mentioned, and are taking a look at the potential for a number of motives to the killing.
A search warrant affidavit obtained by the Orange County Register revealed the 2 younger males had met up on Jan. 2. Based on the paperwork, Woodward instructed investigators that he picked up Bernstein within the parking zone of a Interest Foyer and, from there, the 2 drove to Borrego Park, the place Bernstein set out strolling alone.
Based on the Register, Woodward instructed investigators he waited for an hour earlier than leaving, however Bernstein didn’t return to the automobile; Woodward then left to satisfy a girlfriend.
The affidavit famous that Woodward appeared to have cuts and bruises, which he mentioned have been from a battle membership. When requested about grime underneath his fingernails, Woodward mentioned he’d fallen into a dust puddle throughout a sparring session.
The affidavit revealed that the 2 males had additionally been in touch earlier than the assembly and that Bernstein had instructed mates, by way of social media and texts, that he was planning to pursue Woodward sexually as a result of he believed Woodward was about to “hit on me” and “made me promise to not inform anybody..however I’ve texted everybody, uh oh.”
Woodward additionally instructed investigators Bernstein had kissed him and that “he wished to inform Blaze to get off him,” based on the Register.
Woodward’s ties to Atomwaffen Division — a three-year outdated neo-Nazi group recognized to have a number of scattered cells throughout the nation — has added one other layer to the murder case.
Based on the Anti-Defamation League, which screens extremist teams, members of Atomwaffen Division usually check with a race warfare and make frequent references to Adolf Hitler and Charles Manson, who believed his killings within the late 1960s would spark a race warfare within the US.
Although the group thought-about to be small and comparatively younger, the group has already been tied to a number of acts of violence all through the nation.
In Could, one of many group’s founders, Devon Arthurs, was charged in Florida with murdering two of his roommates, who have been additionally members of the neo-Nazi group. Based on the Miami Herald, Arthurs instructed investigators that the killings occurred as a result of he had transformed to Islam and his roommates had taunted him about his religion.
Arthurs additionally instructed authorities that one other roommate, Brandon Russell, one other self-described neo-Nazi and member of Atomwaffen, had plans to explode energy traces and detonate explosives in a nuclear energy plant.
Russell has pleaded responsible to prices of possessing explosives and bomb-making supplies in his Tampa Palms residence.
In December, 17-year-old Nicholas Giampa shot himself in Virginia after capturing and killing Buckley Kuhn-Fricker and her husband Scott Fricker — mother and father of his former girlfriend who had urged her to interrupt up with him due to his white supremacist views.
The Huffington Submit reported the 17-year-old was a fan and former member of the Atomwaffen group, and ProPublica reported had been in touch with members of the group, based on one other former member.
Based on the Anti-Defamation League, Atomwaffen Division exercise has been reported in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, Massachusetts, Washington, and Wisconsin.