The Fake Uber Driver | The Samantha Josephson Case

(Samantha Lee Josephson. Photo credit: rollingstone.com

The case that I'm covering this week, is a case that I had originally known very little about. If you're in the USA, you may have seen the coverage of the case on the news or read about it in the newspapers. I'm talking about the Samantha Josephson case in South Carolina. I'd read brief details about a young girl who had gotten into a car which she was led to believe was the Uber that she had ordered but was horrendously attacked and murdered. 

As I looked more into the case I realised that this horrible crime had only taken place a few months ago and only certain details were available. I had to really dig deep with the research to find out as much as I could. The perpetrator is in custody but has not been sentenced yet and their last court appearance in May was cancelled with no indication of when their next hearing was going to be. This case is one that I will be keeping my eye on and will update you as soon as I know what's going to be happening next with the perpetrator.

In this post, I'm going to share some details about Samantha, what happened that night (obviously we will know more of the details at some point which I will update you with in a future post), the man the police believe is responsible for her murder and the overwhelming evidence against him. 

Before we begin, just a reminder that you can now find me on Instagram at @KittysOnTheCase and if you enjoy my weekly true crime cases, please consider buying me a coffee to help with my research & maintaining my blog here 

Let's begin...

Samantha Lee Josephson was a beautiful 21 year old girl who had a loving family, a great circle of friends and a happy, supportive relationship with her boyfriend. She was described by those that knew her as kindhearted, very caring, hardworking and she could become best friends with anyone in the space of ten minutes due to her bubbly and friendly personality.

Samantha was known as ''Sami'' to her friends and ''Sweatpea'' to her parents and was a native of the Robbinsville Township in New Jersey. She was a graduate of Robbinsville High School's class of 2015 and had spent last year (2018) studying in Barcelona. Samantha was very close with her sister, Sydney and was a political science major at the University of South Carolina where she was now living. Samantha was just weeks away from graduating when her life was taken; she had plans to become a lawyer and then go onto work for the United Nations. She had plans to study law at the Drexel University in Philadelphia in the fall of this year (2019).

 Samantha and her college roommates were having a night out as they usually would in the Five Points area of Columbia which was popular with college students. At some point during the night, Samantha and her friends had become separated. At around 1:30am on Friday the 29th of March 2019, Samantha decided it was time for her to leave the Bird Dog bar and order an Uber.

Samantha stood outside on the curb, looking through her phone as she waited for the Uber to arrive. Surveillance cameras captured these last known movements. At 2:09am a black Chevrolet Impala drove up alongside the curb and assuming this was her Uber ride, Samantha walked quickly towards one of the back doors of the car and got in.

The horrifying reality of this is that the car that Samantha had gotten into, was not an Uber.

(Pictures from the surveillance cameras. on the right: Samantha waiting for her Uber to arrive. Left: The car that Samantha was last seen getting into. Photo credit: abc15.com

In the early hours, her boyfriend and roommates had tried to contact her through text messages and phone calls but there was no answer. When it got to 1:30pm the next day, Samantha's friends and boyfriend were panicking and decided to call the police. The police filed a missing persons report.

Samantha's boyfriend together with her friends, had printed off pictures and handed them out around their local area as well as going to the store ''Natural Vibrations'' which was located next to the bar where Samantha was last seen. They had shown the picture of Samantha to the owner of the store and requested that they check their surveillance camera footage. ''They all seemed very concerned and distraught.'' said the store owner.

Around 4:00pm, the police had received a phone call that some hunters had found a body in a rural area. They went to investigate the scene.

At 8:30pm the police now had the surveillance footage from the store and they could clearly see Samantha, who was wearing a bright orange shirt and black jeans, waiting on the curb and getting into the black car which they now knew the make and model of. They put out to the public the following: a description of Samantha, details of where she was last seen and an appeal for information.

On the 30th March 2019, at 3:00am, a police officer spotted a black Chevy Impala which fitted the exact description of the car that Samantha was last seen getting into. He pulled the car over and a couple appeared to be inside. Suddenly, the male passenger leaped out of the car and the officer chased after him, eventually catching up to him where he was arrested. The female in the car was co-operative and the car was searched.

Inside the car the police found Samantha's blood, her cell phone, some bleach, some antibacterial wipes and window cleaner as if the owner of the car had tried his best to clean up the crime scene.

At 6:05am, Samantha's father confirms in a post on his Facebook page that the body that the hunters had found was in fact, Samantha's. It was the first public confirmation that she had died.

''It is with tremendous sadness and of a broken heart that I post this. I will miss and love my baby girl for the rest of my 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. I sit here and cry while I look at the picture and write this. - Seymour Josephson, Samantha's father.

Throughout the morning and afternoon the police worked to gather more evidence and found that their suspect, 24 year old Nathaniel David Rowland had been in trouble with the law just 5 months earlier for selling stolen items that were connected to another woman's kidnapping. The woman had been carjacked and her home ransacked. Nathaniel wasn't charged with the carjacking or for ransacking her home but he was charged with selling stolen goods.

(Left: Nathaniel David Rowland. Right: Samantha Josephson. Photo credit: foxnews.com

When word quickly spread that Nathaniel had been arrested, his parents, friends and family refused to believe he could be capable of such an evil thing. They claimed that it was not the Nate that they knew. Nathaniel was said to have been passionate about basketball in high school and had a close family. His parents refused to believe he was guilty and said that they would stand by him 100% and find a suitable lawyer.

Nathaniel continued to plead not guilty and gave a story about how he had been at a party and somebody took his car and then returned it with the keys and blood left inside.

The full details of what happened to Samantha have not been released yet but what we do know is that she had been trapped in the backseat as the child safety locks had been enabled. Her body had been found 66 miles from where she had gotten into the car and she had died from multiple sharp force injuries. Some sources say that she may have been sexually assaulted but I can't confirm that until I've heard actual evidence from the police to state that to be the case. As I mentioned before, a lot of the details are sketchy as this case only happened a few months ago.

Right now, Nathaniel David Rowland, who is now 25 years old, is being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Richland County, South Carolina. His last court hearing in May was cancelled and there's no new information as yet of when his next court appearance will be. I will update when more details become available.

(Some of the hundreds of mourners at Samantha's funeral. Photo credit: abcnews.go.com

When Samanthas' fellow students at the University of South Carolina heard of her death they were distraught and placed flowers in tribute to her in front of a memorial at a fountain in Columbia's Five Points bar district where Samantha was last seen. After her death, Samantha was posthumously awarded a degree from the University at what would have been her graduation ceremony.

During the graduating ceremony the students chanted ''what's my name?'' as they were reminded of the importance of asking this question before getting into any Uber car. ''Asking 'what's my name' before entering a ride-share vehicle will save lives and must become as automatic to you as putting on your seat belt when you get behind the wheel'' - University of South Carolina President, Harry Pastide.

Sami's Law was passed in May of 2019 in the US and went into effect in June 2019. The law requires Uber drivers to prominently display lighted signs and a scannable QR code as safety regulations in light of issues tied to the ride-sharing service.

Samantha's funeral was held on the 3rd of April 2019 and attended by hundreds of relatives and friends at the New Jersey synagogue where she had her bat mitzvah. She was later laid to rest in Perrineville Cemetery.


My thoughts...

This was another heartbreaking story for me to cover, someone so young who had the world at their feet and then the next minute they are gone. I don't know if Samantha had been drinking a lot that night as we don't have the full details. She was an intelligent girl and at that moment maybe she was too drunk to give a second thought about getting into the car which she assumed was an Uber. Once she was in the car she maybe realised quickly that all was not well but couldn't escape because of the child locks on the doors.

I've seen some harsh comments online about Samantha making a silly mistake but at the end of the day, all that guy had to do was say that he wasn't an Uber and let her get out of the car. He chose to harm her and he is fully to blame. We all make mistakes and she was a young girl who I think may have been too tipsy and because of the way the car was moving (some cabs move slowly if they are looking for an address or getting ready to pick up a customer) that it was her ride.

I'm not a fan of Uber, I've never used Uber. I live in the UK and heard a lot of stories from friends who've had all sorts of issues with them. I'm not saying that Uber is 100% bad as I'm sure that there's people out there who use them regularly and have no problem. For me personally, I just call a cab and if I was ever out somewhere in the past, I always asked the driver who they were waiting for. I'm a bit paranoid about that sort of thing but in this day and age you have to be.

I remember a case from a place called Wakefield in Yorkshire, England where a girl who had been out with her boyfriend, flagged down what she thought was a taxi. As soon as she got in the backseat the car sped off, leaving her boyfriend stood on the curb in shock.

The doors in the back of the car were open but the driver was driving fast and the girl had been in the car for quite a few miles before she decided to jump out of the car. It was late at night and she jumped out onto oncoming traffic and was hit. She sadly died. The driver who tried to kidnap her ran off to Greece but he was later captured and sentenced. The man who ran over her was later murdered. The case didn't have much nationwide coverage but you can find some articles like this one online.

Whilst doing my research into Samanthas' case I came across the Dail Dinwiddie story. Dail went missing in the same area where Samantha was last seen back in 1992. She had been to a U2 concert and decided to go to a nightclub with some friends in the Five Points area of Columbia. She got separated from her friends and was last seen talking to a bouncer for a little while before walking north on Harden street where she was never seen again. There's various articles and forums that discuss this case and tons of theories about what may have happened to her. If you would like me to cover this case and go into all of the details, let me know in the comments below or on one of my other social media platforms.

I wish that Samanthas' story had ended differently and I hope that we do hear more about what is going to happen with Nathaniel David Rowland. I would like to see justice done for Samantha. I will keep her family in my prayers.

Thank you for reading my latest true crime case and I'll be back next week with another one x

RIP Samantha.

Before you get in an Uber, ask ''What's my name?'' and remember hers. #WhatsMyName 


Further reading & sources

Samantha Josephson - CNN Article
Samantha Josephson - USA Today
Samantha Josephson - Independent Article
Samantha Josephson - Find A Grave Memorial
Nathaniel David Rowland - Greenville Article
Nathaniel David Rowland - The State
Samantha's parents interview
How to protect yourself when using Uber

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Check out some of the true crime cases I have covered previously:

The McDonald's Massacre (1984) | James Huberty

Wicked Child | The Mary Bell Case

What Really Happened To India Chipchase?

The Sylvia Likens Case

The Tragic Life & Death of Marvin Gaye

The Camden Ripper: Anthony John Hardy

Deadly Obsession: The Ricardo Lopez Story

Targeted: The Kriss Donald Story

-Toxic Relationship: The Tracie Andrews Story

Stalked To Death: The Alissa Blanton Story

Rod Ferrell And The Kentucky Vampire Cult

What Happened To Dominique Dunne?




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2 comments:

  1. This is a really sad story, I didn't hear about this one. Great reporting, I hope to hear updates on this case in the future.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading. I will keep you posted x

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