Crime Watch

Suspect sent corpse photos of murder victim to guys on Grindr

Blaze Bernstein (center) with family

Spoiler alert: this latest story about Alt-Right hate does not involve very fine people on both sides.

Samuel Woodward will stand trial for hate crimes and murder for the death of his former schoolmate Blaze Bernstein. Bernstein was found murdered in January, having been stabbed 20 times in the face and chest before getting dumped in a shallow grave in a Lake Forest, California park.

Investigators have linked Bernstein to Woodward through information from their cell phones. Prosecutors allege that Woodward had a history of humiliating gay men by posing as sexually curious, only to rebuff them later. He also wrote on his phone that he had sent images of Bernstein’s mutilated body to gay men on Grindr as a method of intimidation. At least one victim threatened to call the FBI.

Samuel Woodward

Woodward’s phone also contained a wide variety of anti-gay and antisemitic images and writings, many of which tied to the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen.

Related: Suspect in brutal murder of college student thought victim was hitting on him: report

Prosecutors further point out that Bernstein had sent a photo of Woodward to a friend six months prior to his murder. They also allege that Woodward and Bernstein had communicated via Snapchat, and that Woodward had picked up Bernstein in his car the night of the crime under the auspice of meeting for sex. Woodward admits to meeting Bernstein, and that the two kissed, but denies committing the crime. DNA experts disagree: forensics investigators discovered Bernstein’s DNA in Woodward’s bedroom, in his car, and on his watch.

Defense attorneys for Woodward have argued that he suffers from autism and “sexual confusion.” If convicted, he could face life in prison without parole.