Samuel woodward update

Samuel woodward update DEFAULT

Three Murder Suspects Linked to Atomwaffen: Where Their Cases Stand

Over a period of eight months spanning from 2017 to early 2018, five deaths had links to the Atomwaffen Division, a violent neo-Nazi group.

FRONTLINE and ProPublica first investigated Atomwaffen, which has secretive cells throughout the United States, in Documenting Hate: New American Nazis. The film explores how the white power organization promotes lone wolf activity, which on its face can often appear as random, isolated incidents, but has much more entrenched commonalities.

Documenting Hate chronicled the cases of three men accused of murder — all members or associates of Atomwaffen. Here is what has happened in the cases since the film first aired in November 2018.

Devon Arthurs

In May 2017, Devon Arthurs allegedly killed two of his roommates in their apartment near Tampa, Florida, and then went to a neighborhood smoke shop where he held people inside at gunpoint. The then-18-year-old told law enforcement that his murder victims were members of Atomwaffen, a group that he had recently distanced himself from. He went on to say that they had been plotting large-scale violence: bombing power lines, synagogues, a nearby nuclear plant.

“They were planning bombings and stuff like that on, on countless people,” he told police.

Investigators found bomb-making materials in the garage, which belonged to a fourth roommate Brandon Russell, the founder of Atomwaffen. Last year, Russell was sentenced to five years in jail.

Arthurs’s case has been proceeding through a circuit court in Hillsborough County, Florida. Not long after he was arrested, he seemed to indicate to authorities that he struggled with mental health issues, and in February 2018 he was deemed unfit to stand trial. Following that determination, Arthurs was transferred to a state hospital. He returned to jail in March 2019.

Although doctors at Florida State Hospital came to the conclusion Arthurs could stand before a judge, other health professionals disagreed on his competency. The next court appointment in his trial is scheduled for July 25, where the timing will be set for a future competency hearing. He has plead not guilty to all charges, including first-degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated assault.

Nick Giampa

Nick Giampa has been charged with the fatal shootings of Buckley Kuhn-Fricker and Scott Fricker, the parents of his ex-girlfriend, who were killed at their home in Reston, Virginia in December 2017. Giampa, who was 17 at the time of the murders, allegedly snuck into his ex-girlfriend’s home, shot her parents and then turned the gun on himself. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition. After he stabilized, he was charged as a juvenile with two counts of murder.

Shortly before they were killed, Kuhn-Fricker and Fricker confronted their daughter about Giampa’s social media accounts, which they said documented his “outspoken” neo-Nazi beliefs. The teenager showed a particular fascination with Atomwaffen, often sharing its propaganda. The couple urged their daughter to end the relationship, according to the Washington Post.

Initially, Giampa was ruled incompetent to stand trial due to brain damage from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. This May, after spending months in a mental hospital, Giampa was deemed competent to stand trial. The Postreported that a judge had set a preliminary hearing for his case in late July.

Samuel Woodward

Blaze Bernstein was visiting his parents in Lake Forest, California, in January 2018 when he went missing. Six days later, the 19-year-old’s body was found in a park, partially buried. He had been stabbed more than 20 times, according to the OC Register, which obtained a search warrant affidavit.

Later that month, Samuel Lincoln Woodward, a former high school classmate of Bernstein’s, was arrested and charged with the murder. The presiding judge initially charged him with murder and personal use of a deadly weapon, but later added two hate crime enhancements, according to a representative of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors have alleged that Woodward, who has pled not guilty, killed Bernstein because he was gay. Woodward, who was 20 when he was arrested, faces life without parole.

The next pre-trial hearing is slated for August 2. Woodward’s defense team says that their client struggled with his sexuality and autism spectrum disorder — factors that they said made him vulnerable to white supremacist ideology online, according to BuzzFeed News.

A FRONTLINE-ProPublica investigation found that Atomwaffen celebrated Bernstein’s murder, calling Woodward a “one-man gay Jew wrecking crew” in confidential chat logs. Woodward is currently being held without bail.

Marcia Robiou

Marcia Robiou, Associate Producer, FRONTLINE


[email protected]



Catherine Trautwein, Former Tow Journalism Fellow, FRONTLINE/Columbia Journalism School Fellowship


[email protected]


Man accused of murdering Blaze Bernstein set to appear in court again in August

By Madeleine Lamon 01/28/19 11:31pm

Samuel Woodward, the man charged with murdering former Penn student Blaze Bernstein, appeared in a pretrial hearing on Jan. 25 in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana, Calif. 

While Woodward appeared in court, the judged scheduled a subsequent pretrial hearing on Aug. 2 — a common step in a homicide case, a representative of the Orange County District Attorney's Public Affairs Unit told The Daily Pennsylvanian on Jan. 28.

Bernstein, a Penn sophomore, went missing while home in California for winter break in January 2018. Days after discovering his body in a local park, police arrested Woodward, a former high school classmate, in connection to the murder.

Prosecutors have charged Woodward with Bernstein's murder. The district attorney also filed hate crime charges accusing Woodward of killing Bernstein because Bernstein was gay.

In November 2018, a judge ordered Woodward be held without bail, which was originally set to $5 million. The judge's move came at the request of prosecutors, who motioned to increase bail because of the hate crime enhancement a few months earlier.

During a preliminary hearing in September 2018, prosecutors presented evidence including DNA results from blood stains on Woodward's belongings and a slew of homophobic content on Woodward's cell phone, allegedly linking Woodward to the crime.

Woodward is being held in jail without bail awaiting trial. If convicted, he could face up to life in prison without parole.


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The Man Accused Of Killing His Gay Classmate Was Sexually 'Confused,' Attorney Says

A 21-year-old California man accused of killing his gay former classmate struggled with his own sexuality and autism spectrum disorder, which caused him to fall in with an online group of white supremacists, his attorney said Wednesday.

Samuel Woodward, 21, has been charged with first-degree murder with a hate crime enhancement for killing someone because of their sexual orientation in the death of 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein. If he’s convicted, Woodward could be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

After reviewing Woodward’s computer and presence on social media, prosecutors said they found images and messages that were anti-Semitic, misogynistic, racist, and anti-government. They believe Bernstein was killed because he was gay.

But Woodward’s attorney, Edward Muñoz, told BuzzFeed News his client was a victim himself.

“He has Asperger’s disorder,” he said. “He has a lot of issues, I think, around sexual orientation.”

On Wednesday, a preliminary hearing in the case was postponed because the defense team is continuing to review evidence obtained from Woodward’s phone and computer.

Prosecutors plan to present evidence that connects Woodward to the violent neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division. ProPublica previously reported that Woodward was a member of the group and traveled to Texas to meet other members. A photo posted by a ProPublica reporter also shows Woodward making a Nazi salute.

Woodward also had a following on iFunny, a meme site that regularly hosts offensive content. Going by the name Saboteur, Woodward often posted content that was racist, violent, or related to white nationalism. After his arrest, other iFunny users turned Bernstein’s death into a meme itself, celebrating Woodward for killing a Jew.

Asked about the disturbing memes and messages, Muñoz said it was important to understand the social difficulties Woodward faces because he is autistic.

“They don’t formulate lasting personal relationships in their life,” Muñoz said. “They’re very isolated people. That leads them to go where they’re accepted.”

Muñoz didn’t name white supremacy or the neo-Nazi group, but he said Woodward found connections based on his race.

“He is a blonde, blue-eyed young man,” he said. “There’s only going to be certain clubs he’s going to be allowed into.”

In court on Wednesday, Woodward appeared in chains and handcuffs and chatted with his attorney about the ride over from jail. The black dye that had colored his hair at the time of his arrest had started to grow out. Before proceedings began, his parents prayed together quietly.

Bernstein’s family, Gideon Bernstein and Jeanne Pepper, did not attend, but they have publicly said that they hope a fair trial reveals the truth. And they’ve said that they hope people practice kindness in their son’s memory, to prevent hate and violence against the LGBT community.

The two young men had been classmates at Orange County School of the Arts. Bernstein went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania, and was back home for a school break when he was killed.

According to authorities, Woodward reconnected with his former classmate and picked Bernstein up on Jan. 2 and went to a local park.

Woodward has claimed that Bernstein left him there, and he waited an hour before driving away to meet his girlfriend. Days later, investigators found Bernstein in a shallow grave at the park stabbed more than 20 times.

Woodward was taken into custody with dirt under his fingernails, cuts, and bruises, according to a search warrant affidavit obtained by the Orange County Register. He also told investigators that Bernstein had kissed him that night. In earlier messages to his friends, Bernstein had said he thought that Woodward was interested in him.

Woodward’s sexuality will also be an issue in the trial, his attorney said.

“There’s going to be some evidence that comes out that shows he’s very confused,” he said.


Where is Samuel Woodward Now?

CBS’ ’48 Hours: In the Name of Hate’ is an episode that profiles the early 2018 murder of Blaze Bernstein in his hometown of Orange County, California. The 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania student was found stabbed to death in Borrego Park, Foothill Ranch, a week after he’d gone missing on January 2. Thankfully, though, physical evidence and thorough inquiries helped investigators apprehend his alleged perpetrator, Samuel Woodward, just days later. So now, if you’re curious to know about him, including his current whereabouts, we’ve got the details for you.

Who is Samuel Woodward?

Samuel “Sam” Lincoln Woodward has always been described as a serious person who never seemed to have many friends, even while attending the prestigious Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) in Santa Ana. As per some of his teachers and classmates, he developed a reputation for being racist, homophobic, and sexist quite early on. Unfortunately, it appears as if things didn’t change for Sam even when he left after sophomore year to attend a more traditional high school. In fact, by 2018, Sam had dropped out of college, was working part-time, and living at home with his parents. Moreover, he was allegedly a member of a neo-Nazi terrorist organization called Atomwaffen Division.

Consequently, once Blaze, an openly gay and Jew teenager, disappeared, and it came to light that he had sent his home address to Sam just around that time, it raised suspicion. Upon asking, the then 20-year-old revealed that he’d picked up Blaze and driven to Borrego Park in Foothill Ranch just to hang out. After a while, Sam said, Blaze kissed him on the lips, and Sam pushed Blaze away. The victim then got up and walked away alone, only to disappear into the vicinity. Thus, after his body was recovered from the same area and a search of Sam’s vehicle and home yielded evidence tying him to the crime, he was charged with murder and personal use of a deadly weapon. His arrest occurred on January 12, ten days after Blaze’s brutal and malicious murder.

Where is Samuel Woodward Now?

Following his initial not guilty plea, Samuel “Sam” Woodward’s bail was set at $5 million. However, in November 2018, his bail was revoked by a judge after the prosecutors filed a motion asking for its increase due to the hate crime enhancements in his charges around two months earlier. The two increased counts implicated Sam for killing Blaze based on sexual orientation alone, an allegation made by the District Attorney after experts examined his cell phone, laptop, and social media. The DA said in a press conference that the evidence “revealed the dark side of [Sam’s] thoughts and intentions.”

Subsequently, Sam yet again pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and went as far as to deny the enhancements. Although his jury trial has not yet begun or even been scheduled due to the lengthy legal processes and the COVID-19 pandemic, he continues to make several court appearances for related pre-trial hearings. In other words, Sam Woodward is currently incarcerated at a county jail, where he’ll remain until this matter proceeds further. He was facing a maximum sentence of 26 years behind bars, but the enhancement means that Sam now faces life in prison without parole if convicted.

Read More: Where Are Blaze Bernstein’s Parents Now?


Woodward update samuel

The jury trial of Samuel Woodward, accused of stabbing his former high school classmate Blaze Bernstein to death and burying him in a Lake Forest park, will remain tentatively scheduled for later this year rather than being pushed into 2022, a judge ruled on Friday.

Despite a request by Woodward’s attorney to delay the proceedings until at least January, Orange County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Menninger agreed to set a tentative trial date in November for Woodward to face a murder charge with enhancements for use of a deadly weapon and a hate crime.

Woodward, who prosecutors say has ties to a neo-Nazi group, is accused of killing Bernstein when the two former Orange County School of Arts classmates met up in January 2018 during a winter break. Prosecutors allege Woodward carried out the slaying at least partly because Bernstein was gay.

The case was initially expected to begin this summer, but was delayed because Woodward’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Alison Worthington, has a different murder case that is currently on the verge of beginning jury trial. In recent court filings, Worthington noted that the other murder case has involved a large amount of pretrial litigation, and added that once it is finished she also has five other criminal cases scheduled for September.

District Attorney Todd Spitzer said after the hearing that he believed Bernstein’s parents having to wait four years for the man accused of killing their son to go on trial is “not acceptable.” Spitzer added that he is often asked by community members why it takes so long for some local criminal cases to come before a jury.

“We want this case to go to trial,” Spitzer said.

The tentative trial date is not a guarantee that the jury trial will begin in November. Trials are routinely delayed for a variety of reasons.

Woodward’s previous defense attorney publicly stated that Woodward has a “serious mental disorder” and issues with his own sexuality. It isn’t clear what role, if any, Woodward’s alleged ties to Atomwaffen Division, an armed fascist organization, played in the killing of Bernstein, who was Jewish.

Detectives during a 2018 preliminary hearing testified that Woodward told them he picked up Bernstein from Bernstein’s Lake Forest home around 11 p.m. on Jan. 2. The two drove to a shopping center in Foothill Ranch, according to the testimony, then to Borrego Park.

Woodward reportedly told the detectives that while the two men were sitting in the car at the park, Bernstein kissed Woodward on the lips. Woodward told investigators that he pushed Bernstein away, according to their testimony, and Bernstein apologized.

Woodward told investigators that Bernstein walked off into the park and didn’t return, according to a detective’s testimony. But prosecutors allege that Woodward actually stabbed Bernstein to death and buried his body in the dirt at the edge of the park.

Bernstein’s disappearance set off a well publicized community search, until his body was discovered six days later. An autopsy showed he had been stabbed 19 times in the neck, and had what appeared to be defensive wounds to his right palm and several fingers.

Detectives have testified that a search at Woodward’s family home turned up a knife with blood on it that was tied through DNA to Bernstein. A sleeping bag with what appeared to be blood stains on it was found outside the home, the detectives and crime techs testified, and blood matching both Woodward and Bernstein was found in Woodward’s vehicle.

Detectives also reported finding numerous images referencing “Nazism” and homophobia on Woodward’s phone.

News Conference Feb. 2 New Legislation / Samuel Woodward case update

Trial scheduled for November for Lake Forest murder of Blaze Bernstein

The trial for a Newport Beach man who stands accused of murdering his former high school classmate Blaze Bernstein is tentatively set for November following a trial setting conference held Friday.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Menninger set the date for the jury trial of Samuel Lincoln Woodward, now 23, to begin for November after Woodward’s attorney requested a delay of the proceedings to January due to other trial conflicts.

The trial was initially scheduled to begin in late June, but was delayed as deputy public defender Alison Worthington was assigned to another case verging on a jury trial, according to recent court filings by prosecutors that opposed the delay.

“We were very clear before that we wanted this case to go to trial and that it was going to be four years [since the murder] in January and that’s an unreasonable delay,” Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer said in an interview Friday.

Spitzer said he often receives questions from the public on why it is that Derek Chauvin — who was convicted in April for the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis — could go to trial in less than a year when it took local prosecutors almost four years to get the Woodward trial underway.

“So, we have a date in November and we’re hoping Woodward’s attorney will be available in November, but it’s unacceptable for a trial to take four years to go to trial,” said Spitzer, who acknowledged that there wasn’t much prosecutors could do if the attorney wasn’t available then. “It’s unacceptable,” he reiterated.

The jury trial is now expected to begin on Nov. 12.

Woodward is charged with Bernstein’s murder in 2018 and faces additional sentencing enhancements for personal use of a deadly weapon and a hate crime.

Woodward was arrested that same year and has remained in custody since after bail was revoked. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Bernstein was on winter break from the University of Pennsylvania and was visiting his family in Lake Forest when he disappeared. His body was later discovered in a shallow grave near Borrego Park.

Authorities allege Woodward killed Bernstein because he was gay.

Prosecutors have pointed to DNA evidence that links Woodward to the killing in addition to a blood-spotted knife found in his bedroom, several homophobic messages and images on his cellphone and material related to a neo-Nazi organization.

The two were classmates at the Orange County School of the Arts.

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Similar news:

Murder of Blaze Bernstein

Antisemitic and anti-LGBT hate crime

On January 10, 2018, 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania sophomore Blaze Bernstein was found dead in a park in Orange County, California, eight days after having been reported missing. He was visiting his family in Lake Forest, California, when he was killed.[1][2] He had been stabbed twenty times. Two days later, Samuel Woodward, one of Bernstein's former high school classmates and a member of neo-Nazi terrorist group Atomwaffen Division, was arrested and charged with murdering Bernstein.[3] As Bernstein was both openly gay and Jewish, authorities declared that Bernstein was a victim of a hate crime.[4] Five deaths had links to the Atomwaffen Division over eight months from 2017 to early 2018.[5]

Blaze Bernstein[edit]

Bernstein was born on April 27, 1998, in South Orange County, California, to Gideon Bernstein, an equity partner at Leisure Capital Management,[6] and Jeanne Pepper, a former lawyer who retired from law in 2000 to raise their three children. After completing high school at Orange County School of the Arts, Blaze enrolled as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania.[7]

Legal proceedings[edit]

The presiding judge initially charged Woodward with murder and personal use of a deadly weapon.[5] In August 2018, two charges of committing a hate crime were added because of Bernstein's sexual orientation and religion.[5][8] Woodward, who has been linked to the murder by DNA evidence, pled not guilty.[9][10] A pretrial hearing was held in January 2019.[11]

Woodward's attorney stated that Woodward suffers from Asperger syndrome and issues regarding his own sexual identity.[12]

Woodward, who was 20 at the time of the crime, faces a sentence of life without parole if found guilty.[5] He had initially faced a maximum sentence of 26 years in prison prior to the addition of the hate crime enhancements. Woodward‘s bail was initially set at $5 million but at hearing in November 2018, the judge decided to deny Woodward bail altogether, remanding him to custody pending trial.[13]

Due to the COVID crisis, Woodward has remained in confinement since his last court appearance in 2018; his trial is tentatively scheduled to begin sometime in 2021.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^"Blaze Bernstein killing: Suspect pleads not guilty, judge sets bail at $5M". NBC News. Associated Press. 2018-02-02. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
  2. ^JTA (2018-02-05). "Blaze Bernstein's high school classmate pleads not guilty to murder". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
  3. ^Olmstead, Molly (2018-01-31). "The Man Suspected of Killing Blaze Bernstein Attended a Three-Day Nazi "Hate Camp"". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
  4. ^Dedaj, Paulina (August 2, 2018). "Suspect in Blaze Bernstein murder is charged with hate crime". Fox News. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  5. ^ abcdBoghani, Priyanka; Robiou, Marcia; Trautwein, Catherine (June 18, 2019). "Three Murder Suspects Linked to Atomwaffen: Where Their Cases Stand". PBS. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  6. ^Leisure Capital Management
  7. ^"A Life Too Short: Blaze Bernstein Obituary". Lake Forest, CA Patch. 2018-01-16. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
  8. ^"Blaze Bernstein murder suspect charged with targeting him because he was gay". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 2 August 2018. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  9. ^"Alleged killer of Jewish college student Blaze Bernstein pleads not guilty". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 11 November 2018. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  10. ^Smith, Tracy. (21 July 2019). 'In the Name of Hate'. 48 Hours (TV program). CBS News. USA
  11. ^Madeleine Lamon (January 28, 2019). "Man accused of murdering Blaze Bernstein set to appear in court again in August". Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  12. ^Sean Emery (August 22, 2018). "Blaze Bernstein murder case: Attorney for Samuel Woodward denies hate-crime allegation, says his client has a 'serious mental disorder'". OC Register. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  13. ^Sclafani, Julia (November 9, 2018). "Judge orders no bail for Newport man accused of murdering Blaze Bernstein in hate crime". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on July 14, 2021. Retrieved February 4, 2021.
  14. ^Emery, Sean, “After pandemic related delays, high-profile Orange County court cases looming in 2021”, The Orange County Register (December 30, 2020, updated December 31, 2020). Retrieved February 4, 2021.

External links[edit]


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