- Associated Press - Thursday, January 11, 2018

LAKE FOREST, Calif. (AP) - The friend of a 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania student who was found dead in a Southern California park appeared nervous while speaking with authorities and had scratched up hands and dirt under his fingernails, a sheriff’s investigator said.

The investigator made the observations in a search warrant affidavit related to the death of Blaze Bernstein, the Orange County Register reported Thursday. Authorities said they were investigating his death as a homicide but would not say how he died. No arrests have been made or suspects named.

The friend said he went with Bernstein to a neighborhood park in the city of Lake Forest on Jan. 2 to meet up with another friend but stayed in the car, the Orange County sheriff’s investigator wrote in the document. He said he left about an hour later when Bernstein did not return to the vehicle or respond on social media.

That was the last time Bernstein was reported to have been seen, authorities said. His body was found Tuesday in brush surrounding the park after days of searching by rescue teams, with assistance from drone pilots.

Bernstein’s death has rocked the tight-knit community 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles. Several hundred community members held a candlelight vigil Wednesday evening to remember the college sophomore, who had been home visiting his family on winter break.

In the affidavit, the investigator wrote that the friend said the scratches on his hands and dirty nails were from a “fight club” he was involved in.

The friend couldn’t remember the last name of the girlfriend he said he went to see later that night and avoided touching doors at the sheriff’s offices following an interview, the investigator wrote.

“On their way out of sheriff’s headquarters, (investigators) noticed every door (the friend) had to touch on the way out of the building he pulled his jacket over his hand to prevent his hand and fingers from touching any part of the doors he touched,” the newspaper quoted the affidavit as saying.

A spokeswoman for Orange County Superior Court said the document obtained by the newspaper was later placed under seal.


Information from: The Orange County Register, http://www.ocregister.com

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