Update: Authorities announced an arrest Friday in connection with Bernstein's death. A news conference with Orange County Sheriff's officials is scheduled for 4 p.m. PST. Follow new devepments here.
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, according to a search warrant affidavit filed by a sheriff's investigator.
Blaze Bernstein's body was found Tuesday, Jan. 9 after an extensive search through Borrego Park. Authorities said they were investigating his death as a homicide but would not say how he died.
The friend said he went with Bernstein to a neighborhood park in the city of Lake Forest on Jan. 2 to meet up with the victim's girlfriend but stayed in the car, the Orange County sheriff's investigator wrote in the document. The friend could not recall the girlfriend's last name or address.
He said he left about an hour later when Bernstein did not return to the vehicle or respond on social media. He alleged he returned to the park several hours later but could not find Bernstein.
Detectives noted the friend had dirt under his fingernails during the interview, to which he claimed was caused by a fall. Officials also saw that the friend had several cuts and scratches, but he claimed they stemmed from a “fight club” he was involved in.
"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," according to the affidavit.
Family and friends attended a candlelit vigil on Wednesday, where mourners gathered to honor the teen’s memory.
"We thank God for this hard rain that exposed his grave," Bernstein’s grandfather said before he choked back tears.
Sheriffs said Bernstein’s body was found in brush near Foothill Ranch Park. Although officials would not say whether he was buried or not, they confirmed that Tuesday’s storm helped find his body. Officials did not comment on the cause of death.
Bernstein, who was visiting family in Orange County during his school break from University of Pennsylvania, was last seen about 11 p.m. on Jan. 2. He told relatives he was meeting up with his friends. He was reported missing the following day after his loved ones were unable to get in contact with him.
No suspects are in custody. Sheriffs will not go into detail on who received the search warrant nor have they publicly named a person of interest.
Anyone with information on Bernstein’s death is asked to contact the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at 714-647-7000.