In March 2019, per Michelle Liu for the Associated Press, University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson disappeared from the Five Points entertainment district in the city of Columbia. Prosecutors said Josephson had ordered an Uber to get back to her apartment that evening when she got into Nathaniel Rowland’s vehicle by mistake.
Once inside the car, prosecutors said, Josephson was unable to escape due to the implementation of childproof locks. Her body, covered in stab wounds, was later discovered in a wooded area approximately 65 miles outside of Columbia. Among the pieces of evidence detailed during the court proceedings were blood from the victim that was found in Rowland’s vehicle, blood on cleaning supplies thrown away behind the residence of Rowland’s girlfriend, cellphone tracking data, and more.
Rowland and his lawyers, however, had maintained innocence. The defense, who did not call witnesses, said that the charges should have been thrown out, arguing that the case was circumstantial. But Circuit Judge Clifton Newman pushed back against this argument, saying there was also direct evidence and that Josephson had left “a sufficient trail for the jury to see what you did.”
In the time since their daughter’s death, Josephson’s parents have assisted in passing legislation aimed at improving safety for rideshare service users, including a House-passed one nicknamed “Sami’s Law.”