The murder of Blaze Bernstein: motive

Blaze Bernstein

Blaze Bernstein, 19, was a pre-med student at the University of Pennsylvania, on January 2, 2018 he disappeared in Orange County, California where he was visiting his parents during a holiday break. A week later, Bernstein’s body was found in a shallow grave in Borrego Park, in Lake Forest, Los Angeles, not far from his parents’ home. Bernstein had been stabbed more than 20 times.

Borrego Park, Lake Forest, Los Angeles, California

Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, a friend from high school had picked up Blaze Bernstein from his parents’ house in Lake Forest on January 2, 2018, around 11.00 p.m.

Samuel Lincoln  Woodward

During an interview with the police, Woodward appeared nervous (breathing heavy, talking fast and visibly shaking) had scratched hands and dirt under the fingernails on both hands, avoided touching doors with his hands and told investigators that Bernstein tried to kiss him on the lips on the night he went missing and that he shoved him away, dropped him off his car in Borrego Park and went to meet his girlfriend but he could remember neither the name nor address of the girl.


Samuel Lincoln Woodward, was arrested few days after Bernstein’s body was found and charged with one felony count of murder with a sentence enhancement for using a knife. Prosecutors revealed that Woodward changed his appearance dyeing his hair from blond to black after Bernstein disappeared, returned to the scene of the crime while under police surveillance and washed his car.

Samuel Lincoln Woodward and Blaze Bernstein had a previous sexual contact. In June 2017, Blaze wrote to two of his female friends that Samuel made him promise to keep it a secret: ”he made me promise not to tell anyone… but I have texted every one, uh oh.”

This is an indication that Woodward too is attracted by male but he struggles to accept his own impulses and desires.

This is a case of “internalized homophobia” in a sociopath.

“Internalized homophobia” is an issue that affects most of the LGBTQ individuals as a result of the social stigma that surrounds them.

“Self-hatred” leads to verbal or physical abuse within friendships and romantic relationships and is also a powerful motive in homicide between homosexuals due to a desire of secrecy, internal struggle of self denial and shame about homosexual experiences.

Samuel Lincoln Woodward stabbed to death Blaze Bernstein because Blaze uncovered their intercourse and put him in front of his homosexuality.

This not a “hate crime” but a case of “self hate crime”.

During the interview with the detectives, Woodward had the need to persuade them that he is heterosexual, he told the investigators that he refused Blaze’s advances and that he has a girlfriend but he was unable to provide her name and her address.

Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard, on June 11, 2016, killed 49 people at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida for the same motive: he hated himself for being homosexual and turned his internal conflicts outward.

Both Woodward and Mateen turned their “internalized homophobia” or “self hate” outward towards others.

Gay serial killers often murder other homosexuals to try to overcome their own sexual desires.

Ursula Franco, MD and criminologist