On Friday, March 29, Samantha Josephson parted ways with friends after a night out and at 2:09 am, got into a car she believed to be her Uber ride. However, as The Washington Post said, “The Impala was not her Uber, police said, and the man driving it never took her home.” As pedestrians walked by, carrying about their normal business, Josephson climbed into the car of her killer. Twelve hours after Josephson was last seen, she was reported missing by friends who grew concerned when she had not shown up for work. Two hours after she was reported missing, two hunters found a body 40 feet off a dirt road. The body was identified as 21-yearold Samantha Josephson.
Later, Samantha’s father, Seymour Josephson, publicly announced her death on Facebook saying, “I will miss and love my baby girl for the rest of life. Samantha is no longer with us but she will not be forgotten. It is extremely hard to write this and post it but I love her with all my heart. I could continue to write about her but it kills me.” Hours later, a patrol officer spotted a vehicle matching the one Josephson got into the night before, a black Impala. The Washington Post wrote that the car was pulled over and the driver attempted to flee but was caught and arrested. The car was owned by 24-year-old Nathaniel David Rowland. According to CNN, police searched the car and discovered blood on the passenger side and trunk matching Samantha Josephson as well as “her cell phone [that] was found in the passenger compartment”. Investigators also found a container of liquid bleach, germicidal wipes, and window cleaner in the vehicle. Columbia Police Chief W.H. Holbrook also revealed that the child safety locks had been activated, trapping Josephson inside. Rowland was quickly charged with the kidnapping and murder of Samantha Josephson.
In an attempt to prevent a situation like this from occurring again, many bills have been proposed to the South Carolina House of Representatives. CBS reported that, Representative Seth Rose is sponsoring a bill requiring car services to have an illuminated sign at all times in order to draw awareness to their credibility as a car service. The House approved this with a 99-1 vote on April 9th. This bill would require “Uber, Lyft and other rideshare drivers to show an illuminated company-provided sign when on duty and turn it off when off duty. They would be required to return the sign to the company when they no longer work at the firm or provide a sworn statement about what happened to the sign. The companies would have to report the name and address of any worker who did not return the sign.” This is seen by many as the first step to ensuring the safety of Uber riders. The bill will face one more vote before heading to the Senate.
The city is in mourning of Samantha Josephson who was described as a kind and compassionate person. “She was honestly one of those people you loved to be around”, said Josephson’s restaurant partner Vascovich. Family and friends of Josephson hope her death will not be forgotten, but rather prevent another tragedy from taking place. Samantha’s mother pleads to everyone, “Samantha Josephson. My daughter’s name is Samantha Josephson. Don’t ever forget her name. Samantha Josephson”. Samantha Josephson’s death has sparked awareness for the dangers of car services such as Uber and Lyft. People, especially young women, are taking every precaution to stay safe such as traveling in groups and checking the license plate before getting into the car. Julianne Bruggemann, a senior at Ramapo, commented that “the whole story was disturbing because it could happen to anyone. It made me realize how cautious I have to be in college.” Services recommend you confirm the make, model, license plate, and name of your driver prior to entering the vehicle. Hopefully in the future, more protective measures will be put in place to prevent another tragedy.
Featured Photo: Samantha Josephson (Photo courtesy of CNN)
By: Eden Osiason, Assistant Editor