Missing UPenn Student Blaze Bernstein Found Dead in California Park

Pauline Gross
January 11, 2018

Bernstein, who was visiting relatives while on winter break from the University of Pennsylvania, went missing after going to Borrego Park with a friend to meet another person, said Annee Della Donna, an attorney and friend of the family.

Authorities would not say how the college sophmore died or whether the friend he was with that night is a suspect but so far no arrests have been made.

He was officially reported missing by his parents on January 3.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department, which searched the park after Bernstein vanished, said it continues to treat the disappearance as a missing person case.

The body of Blaze N. Bernstein was discovered during a search effort Tuesday afternoon in some brush surrounding Borrego Park, the Orange County Sheriff's Department confirmed.

Bernstein was dropped off at the park by a friend at 10:30 p.m. and walked into the wooded area on foot. Investigators believe his death was a homicide and they have served search warrants at a Newport Beach home in connection with the case. Bernstein went off alone into the park while his friend waited back in the auto, she said. Bernstein left the vehicle and entered the park.

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Bernstein's phone had stopped functioning and was turned off around 11:30 p.m., Della Donna said.

"He didn't have anything with him", Donna told reporters.

His father, Gideon Bernstein, said his son was a sophomore planning to declare a major in psychology with a minor in chemistry and was "pursuing it with a pre-med focus". They said he did not have money, his ID or wallet when he left, and did not use drugs or alcohol.

His parents have publicly said that nothing was odd or out of the ordinary on the night of Bernstein's disappareance. "He's a planner; he was intending to come home that night", Gideon said. "They had a great evening together".

Bernstein was scheduled to fly back to college on Sunday. He was on the Internet that night buying things.

Valentine said recent rain in California helped authorities locate Bernstein's body but he declined to say how.

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