The Newport Beach man charged with murder in the stabbing death of Blaze Bernstein belonged to a neo-Nazi group, ProPublica reported Friday.
According to the website, three people who knew Samuel Woodward said the 20-year-old was part of the Atomwaffen Division, an armed Fascist organization that aims to overthrow the U.S. government through guerrilla tactics and terrorism.
The group has been linked to four other murders and a bomb plot over the past eight months, ProPublica said.
The website identified two of its three sources as Woodward’s friends; the other one an ex-member of Atomwaffen Division. The latter told ProPublica that Woodward participated in firearm and combat training in Texas.
Officials have not commented about Woodward’s alleged activities with the group.
Sam Woodward, the alleged killer of Blaze Bernstein, with members of Atomwaffen, violent neo-Nazi organization in Texas this past summer. pic.twitter.com/qYCtMpOkJ8
— A.C. Thompson (@ACInvestigates) January 27, 2018
Jeanne Pepper Bernstein had told the Los Angeles Times that she was afraid her son would become a target.
“I’m concerned about the fact that he is Jewish,” she said. “I’m concerned with the fact that he is gay or the fact that he is small.”
Authorities found the 19-year-old victim’s body in a shallow grave in Borrego Park a week after his family reported him missing on Jan. 3. Bernstein, a pre-med student at the University of Pennsylvania, was visiting his parents.
He had been stabbed more than 20 times, according to reports.
DNA evidence at the scene and in Woodward’s car led to the suspect’s arrest on Jan. 12, authorities said.
Woodward and Bernstein both previously attended the Orange County High School of the Arts in Santa Ana.
The suspect was scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 2.