Student Murdered After Getting Into 'Fake' Uber Tracked By Boyfriend — Who Watched Her Disappear In Real-Time

Photo: Justice for Samantha Josephson on Facebook
Samantha Josephson

Safety. That is the primary word every woman has in her head when she walks out of her front door every day.

How safe am I? How can my safety be endangered? Is anyone following me? How can I be safer?

Tragically, Samantha Josephson, will never be able to ask herself those questions, again, as the University of South Caroline student was murdered, allegedly by the driver of a car she mistook for her Uber, in the early hours of Friday, March 29, 2019.

The murder trial against a South Carolina man named Nathaniel David Rowland, 27, began last week. He is accused of kidnapping and killing the college senior, who accidentally got into his car , thinking it was her Uber.

What happened to Samantha Josephson?

Josephson was a 21-year-old political science major who was just a few weeks away from graduating from USC with a full scholarship to Drexel Law School when tragedy struck.

Her boyfriend, Greg Corbishley, testified that she had been out at a bar she regularly frequented with some friends to celebrate her law school admission.

“I told her to get her mind off of it, to go out with her friends, that she just worked so hard, got into law school, that she deserved to have a night to celebrate that,” Corbishley said. “I just told her to go out and have fun that night.”

Surveillance video from that night shows a black 2017 Chevrolet Impala circling the block as Josephson waited for an Uber she'd called to take her home.

The USC student and New Jersey native did, as many of us do, something to help keep her safe while using the driving service; she shared her location with her boyfriend and roommate so they could make sure she got home safely.

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Corbishley and Josephson's roommate say they both tracked her route home via her cellphone on the Find My Friends app they all shared. Sadly, this did not save Josephson.

Her boyfriend told the court that he watched in real-time as the vehicle she was in headed "in the complete opposite direction" of her home. When he noticed this error, he tried texting but got no read receipt. When he tried calling, it went straight to voicemail.

Her location soon stopped being share with him, which Corbishley said "never happened before in our relationship."

Thinking she'd maybe left her phone in the Uber, he tried calling her roommates to see if she'd made it back safely. They also hadn't heard from her. He went to sleep at 5:00 am, still not knowing what had happened to her.

The next day, Josephson still hadn't been located, and her roommate found an email on Josephon's computer saying the Uber ride had been cancelled.

Josephson was later found dead by hunters in a remote area approximately 65 miles away from where she had gotten into the black sedan, and just two miles from Rowland's family home. She had been stabbed multiple times, with as many "as 100 stab wounds, scratches and other wounds" found on her body.

Rowland was arrested after his vehicle was spotted that Saturday. Body cam footage shows he ran from police as soon as the officer began explaining that his car matched the description of a vehicle they were looking for. He was detained a few blocks over by another officer.

Investigators found a large amount of Josephson’s blood, as well as samples of her hair and fingerprints, was found in the car’s trunk and passenger area.

The vehicle also contained her cell phone, a container of liquid bleach, germicidal wipes and window cleaner. Additionally, the car's child safety locks were activated, which police officers believe was intended to prevent her from escaping.

Prosecutors claim they have video evidence that shows Rowland trying to use Josephson’s debit card multiple times, including an attempt to use it to withdraw money from her bank account, as well trying to sell her phone.

Additionally, Rowland's then-girlfriend testified that she saw blood in his car hours after Josephson disappeared, adding that she also later saw him cleaning the car with bleach, as well as cleaning a hunting knife.

Bed sheets, clothing and "a multitool with knife blades, all containing blood," were found in the trash bin outside of that woman's apartment shortly after Josephson was found dead.

Rowland has maintained that he is innocent, with his defense attorney, Alicia Goode, noting that Rowland’s DNA wasn’t found under Josephson’s fingernails or on her body.

Goode also stated that "an investigator photographed Rowland within 24 hours after his arrest, and his skin showed no marks or cuts that would have been consistent with Josephson having fought him."

However, forensic scientist and DNA analyst Ryan Dewane testified this week that while his DNA was not found under Josephson's nails, her DNA was "almost definitely" found under his.

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Josephson’s parents, Seymour and Marci Josephson, have become activists for ride-share safety since losing their daughter.

Stories like Josephson's scare us, bringing many questions back into our heads about we can stay safe using riding share services like Uber or Lyft.

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To that end, her parents started the Whats My Name Foundation, the mission of which is to "educate the world on ride share safety, supporting charitable organizations and providing college scholarships to selected high school seniors."

The What's My Name Foundation lays out a four-step safety plan named after Josephson: SAMI.

Stop: "Plan ahead. Before you request a ride, think about where you're headed and review the safety features in the app so you know how to use them."

Ask: "Ask your driver 'what's my name' to confirm they have booked a trip with you through the ride sharing app."

Match: "Match the make, model and license plate of the car with the one displayed in the app."

Inform: "Share the details of your trip with a friend. Utilize the 'share status' function in your ride sharing app."

They have also worked with lawmakers "to advocate for policies that enhance safety for ride-share passengers," with several laws having been enacted since their daughter's passing.

The Samantha L. Josephson Ridesharing Safety Act was signed into law in South Carolina on On June 5, 2019.

The law requires ride-share vehicles to display license plate numbers on the front and subjects people who misrepresent themselves as authorized ride-share drivers to fines and potential incarceration.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Sami's Law that same month.

Sami's Law requires additional identification be displayed on ride-share vehicles, specifically placards which must be placed on the driver and passenger side back windows with the driver's name, photo and license plate number, among other protections.

The Passenger Protection Act was signed into law by the Governor of North Carolina in August 2019.

The act requires ride-share drivers to display a printed license plate number on the front of their vehicles and to have illuminated signs on their vehicles, as well as creating a criminal penalty for impersonating a ride-share driver. It also provides funding for grants given to colleges for educating students about ride-share safety.

Additional legislation in this same area is pending on both the state and federal levels.

Rowland's trial is expected to last at least another week and is being live-streamed on YouTube by local News 19 WLTX.

If convicted, Rowland faces up to life in prison without parole.

Sometimes you can't help but get into an Uber alone, but if at any time you can travel with a buddy, do it. There's a certain safety in numbers, so whenever you can share an Uber with a friend, do it.

And when you do, be sure to ask the driver, "What's my name?"

RELATED: How I Escaped From An Uber Driver Who Tried To Kidnap Me

Deauna Nunes is an assistant editor who covers pop culture, news and entertainment for YourTango and has been published by Emerson College's literary magazine Generic. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.