Murder of Blaze Bernstein
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. 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. As Bernstein was both openly gay and Jewish, authorities declared that Bernstein was a victim of a hate crime.
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Bernstein was born on April 27, 1998, in South Orange County, California, to Gideon Bernstein, an equity partner at Leisure Capital Management, and Jeanne Pepper, a former lawyer who retired from law in 2000 to raise Blaze and his siblings. Before beginning classes at the University of Pennsylvania, he graduated from Orange County School of the Arts.
On February 2, 2018, Woodward, a member of the Neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division, pleaded not guilty to murder charges in Bernstein's death. ProPublica subsequently obtained 250,000 messages sent on Discord among which were those showing members of Atomwaffen Division celebrating Bernstein's murder.
Woodward was charged with committing a hate crime in August 2018 because he targeted Bernstein because of his sexual orientation and religion. Woodward, who has been linked to the murder by DNA evidence, pled not guilty.
- Matthew Shepard, murdered in a hate crime in 1998
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- Dedaj, Paulina (August 2, 2018). "Suspect in Blaze Bernstein murder is charged with hate crime". Fox News. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
- "A Life Too Short: Blaze Bernstein Obituary". Lake Forest, CA Patch. 2018-01-16. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
- JTA (2018-02-05). "Blaze Bernstein's high school classmate pleads not guilty to murder". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
- Forward, The (2018-02-26). "Chats Show Neo-Nazis Celebrated Brutal Murder of Gay Jewish College Student". Haaretz. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
- Thompson, A. C. (2018-03-01). "Read the chilling texts of Nazis celebrating the murder of a Jewish teen". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
- "Blaze Bernstein murder suspect charged with targeting him because he was gay". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 2 August 2018. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
- "Alleged killer of Jewish college student Blaze Bernstein pleads not guilty". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 11 November 2018. Retrieved 12 November 2018.