Samantha Josephson was a 21 year old woman who was born in Princeton, NJ. She grew up in the same state in Robbinsville.
Samantha was attending the University of South Carolina at the time of her murder – she was due to graduate in 2019 and was majoring in Political Science.
She had plans after graduation to attend Drexel University School of Law. She earned a full scholarship to Drexel University, as well as a partial scholarship to Rutgers and aspired to practice international law. She was really going places.
She was a member of the Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority and she also studied in Spain and France during her time at USC.
On the night of March 28, 2019, Samantha went out with friends in the Five Points District in Columbia, SC.
At around 2am on March 29, she decided she had had enough and wanted to go home. She ordered an Uber from outside the Blue Dog Bar.
According to surveillance footage, at 2:09, a black Chevrolet Impala, driven by a man named Nathaniel Rowland, pulled up beside her. Samantha entered the vehicle, thinking it was her Uber driver. When she was inside, Nathaniel activated the child locks so that the doors could only be opened from the outside. Samantha was essentially now trapped in the vehicle.
Samantha’s friends became worried when she did not return home, and they reported her missing at around 1pm on March 29.
Samantha was not missing for long before she was found. At 4pm on March 29, the Clarendon County coroner was called a wooded area off a dirt road in an area described as “difficult to get to” where hunters found a body.
Samantha had been stabbed to death.
This description of her murder is quite graphic:
Using a two-bladed knife, Rowland proceeded to inflict roughly 120 stab wounds upon Josephson. During the attack, Josephson attempted to shield herself. One of Rowland’s strikes went completely through her right hand, as she likely used it to protect herself. Rowland also stabbed Josephson in her head with enough force that the knife went through her skull to her brain. He also stabbed her in the carotid, one of two main arteries that carries blood to the head. Many of the wounds, especially those in her right neck and right shoulder, were close together, most likely resulting from being rapidly inflicted stab wounds. Additionally, Josephson suffered a severed hyoid bone, as well as stab wounds to her face, neck, shoulder, torso, back, lung, leg, and feet. She bled profusely, ultimately dying within 10-20 minutes, according to the pathologist who conducted an autopsy on her body.
The human body usually holds several liters of blood, but Samantha’s body only contained 1.3 US tablespoons (0.019 l).
Police quickly pulled surveillance video and managed to narrow down the search to the vehicle that Samantha was seen getting into.
Nathaniel ended up being pulled over by police on March 30 (very quick arrest).
He initially ran away after they stopped him, but he was found and was arrested at 3:00 am on March 30. Inside the car, police found a container of liquid bleach, germicidal wipes, and window cleaner.Additionally, the child locks were still activated.
Samantha’s phone was found in the vehicle, along with a large amount of her blood in the passenger seat and the trunk.
Samantha’s DNA was also found under Nathaniel’s fingernails.
On July 27, 2021, Rowland was found guilty of kidnapping and murdering Samantha and of possessing a weapon during a violent crime. The jury deliberated for around an hour before finding him guilty. State Circuit Judge Clifton Newman sentenced Nathaniel to life in prison. “For whoever asked me for leniency, that’s not part of my DNA,” said Judge Newman “There’s a thousand trails each that led to you. All of the evidence, each speck of the evidence — not simply beyond a reasonable doubt, but as the highest standard the law requires — all points to your guilt.”
Newman also characterized Rowland as being “heartless” and said the case was the “most severe” murder he had seen in court before.