A South Carolina couple is coming to the defense of their son, who has been accused of murdering a 21-year-old college student after she mistakenly got into the wrong car, believing it was her Uber.
Nathaniel Rowland, 24, has been charged with kidnapping and murdering Samantha Josephson after a group of turkey hunters found the political science major’s body off a rural road.
“If he did it, I’ll be the first one to put him behind bars, lock him up, throw away the key, but he didn’t do it, ain’t no way,” Henry Rowland said of his son during an interview with WACH.
Henry described his son as a “good kid” who was once a star high school basketball player, even playing briefly in college.
“Ain’t no way in the world, he could do this,” he said, adding that he had always raised his four children not to lie and to accountable for their actions.
If his son did commit the murder, Henry did say he would need to pay for his actions.
“I know it’s my child, but, if you’re wrong, you’re wrong. Period. There’s no ifs ands or buts about it. You’ve got the pay the consequences,” he told the station.
Nathaniel’s mother, Loretta, said she talked with her son after the arrest and he had told her he didn’t kill Josephson.
“He is not a bad young man,” she said. “He has one of the biggest hearts that anyone can have.”
Henry said his heart goes out to Josephson’s family, but he just doesn’t think his son was involved in the killing.
Nathaniel was arrested Saturday morning just one day after Josephson vanished after getting into a black car outside a Columbia bar that she believed was her Uber ride.
Police pulled Rowland over after noticing the vehicle matched the description of the car Josephson was last seen on surveillance footage getting into.
Investigators discovered a “large amount of blood” in the car that matched Josephson, as well as her cellphone, bleach, window cleaner, and other cleaning supplies, The State reports.
Henry claimed his son had been at a party and had passed out, waking up around 2:30 a.m. to discover his car keys were no longer in his pocket. He walked outside to find his car, with the keys inside the vehicle and blood inside.
“He was at a party while this was going on, so now I know for sure he didn’t do it,” his father said, adding that he believes the truth will come to light.
Nathaniel's high school basketball coach Justin Waiters also described his former player as great kid who came from a very involved family.
“This doesn’t sound like the person we know and love,” he told The Greenville News.
In addition to his parents, several of the suspect’s other family members have spoken out about their shock at the allegations as well.
“He has no violent record and if he is found to have been a part of this, our community will be very surprised as he has never displayed these actions and his character does not reflect an individual who would be capable of such,” his second cousin Monique Pearson told the local paper.
Josephson’s family remembered her in a tearful memorial service in New Jersey, where she was from, Wednesday.
“I will always love you, think about you, worry about you, and I will always have your voice inside my head saying ‘Dad,’” her father, Seymour Josephson, said during the eulogy, according to The New York Post.
He pledged that his daughter’s name and legacy would never be forgotten.
“You had so much more to do,” he said.
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