Mistaken Uber Ride Ends in Murder


Samantha Josephson, credit to rollingstone.com

Melina Lotito, Social Media Editor

Samantha Josephson, a 21-year-old student at the University of South Carolina, was murdered Friday, March 29th, after getting into a car she assumed was her Uber ride. Her body was later discovered by turkey hunters in a field 90 miles from Columbia. According to USA Today, surveillance video showed Josephson on her phone outside a bar in Columbia’s Five Points entertainment district. It was around 2:00 a.m. when Josephson stumbled into the black Chevy, thinking it was the Uber she had ordered.

Police reported that Josephson had been separated from her roomates during the night out when she called an Uber. “What we know now is that she had, in fact, summoned an Uber ride to come,” said Columbia Police Chief W.H. “Skip” Holbrook. “About 14 hours later, turkey hunters found her body in a field 90 miles from Columbia. 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.”

The person driving the black Chevy was 24-year-old Nathaniel David Rowland. According to USA Today, Rowland was found early Saturday, the morning after Josephson’s disappearance, with his car. Police reported that the blood in the car matched Josephson’s blood and that the child safety locks had been activated, making it impossible for Josephson to have escaped. According to a Monday press release from the State Law Enforcement Division, the cause of death was “multiple sharp force injuries.” Rowland was held on suspicion of first-degree murder and kidnapping.

At to the hearing, which took place on Sunday, March 31st, Josephson’s mother described the sadness and grief her family felt.

“There are no words to describe the incredible pain he’s caused,” said Marci Josephson. “Samantha was bubbly, loving, kind, and full of life. He’s taken away a piece of our heart.”

Samantha was going to graduate this May and had planned to go to Drexel University’s law school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA Today reported.

The funeral service was held in Princeton Junction, New Jersey, the Josephson’s hometown, according to CBS New York news.

Josephson’s tragic story was a lesson for her fellow peers at the University of South Carolina but also to teenagers, young adults, or anyone who uses Uber. In fact, many student here at THS use Uber to get to places if they don’t have a car. Some shared their insight into and advice on how they use Uber safely.

“Make sure to check the license plate before you get in. Check the photo of the driver to see if the face matches, and screen shot all the information about your ride and send the information to your parents or someone you trust,” said Alexandra Osterwalder (’20).

“Ask them who they are picking up,” said Molly Egleston (’20).

“Be in a safe spot when you are getting picked up,” said Sally Kim (’20).

“I don’t want anyone else to go through this again,” said Seymour Josephson, Samantha Josephson’ father. “What we learned is… you guys have to travel together. If there’s two of you, something is less likely to happen. Samantha was by herself—she had absolutely no chance.”

Seymour told USA Today that he wants others to learn from what happened to his daughter and be more careful when using ride-hailing services. He said he wants to see those services improve safety for their clients. There is also a $5,000 GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for funeral and other expenses. It had raised almost $50,000 in pledges as of Monday.