A California man, Samuel Woodward, 21, was arrested on suspicion of killing a gay man, Blaze Bernstein, 19. Woodward is standing trial in Orange County Superior Court.
Now, the media is reporting that Woodward sent corpse pictures to people on Grindr in a series of twisted “pranks.”
Bernstein, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, was killed in January, the result of twenty stab wounds. Investigation followed, and law enforcement attention soon fell upon Sam Woodward, a former high school classmate of Bernstein’s. Woodward has been charged with hate-crime related murder.
According to LGBT Nation, “At the hearing, investigators presented evidence that Woodward was motivated by hate. They said they found over 100 pieces of content on his phone related to the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen, as well as pictures with Nazi references.”
“Woodward was particularly bothered by gay men. He sent himself emails, bragging about ‘pranking’ people on Grindr by sending them pictures of gay men being killed.”
One of the recipients of the message told Woodward he was going to call the FBI.
Police have told the state that Woodward would allegedly pose as “gay curious” on the app. Then he sent incendiary messages, using hateful, slur-filled language.
In one instance, a message contained the image of a blood-stained knife. News sources report that this message was approximately two weeks before the killing of Bernstein took place.
Bernstein’s body was discovered on January 10. He was a college sophomore at the time, and had been reported missing eight days prior. He had been visiting his family members in Lake Forest, California. According to prosecutor’s, Bernstein and Woodward had arranged a meetup prior to the killing.
As reported by Philadelphia television station 6ABC, “The two had connected earlier in the evening on Snapchat and Woodward picked up Bernstein at his home.”
Authorities say that Bernstein, who was Jewish in addition to being gay, was the victim of a hate crime – especially given Woodward’s membership in Atomwaffen.
The site ProPublica obtained a quarter-million messages that had been sent on the chat server Discord after the Bernstein killing. In the messages, Atomwaffen members were shown to be celebrating Bernstein’s murder.
Woodward has pleaded not guilty to the charges.