Fear spikes after student killed in vehicle mistaken for Uber

Safety tips when using Uber service to help protect yourself

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The brutal murder of Samantha Josephson, 21, has left many stunned. Chilling video released by the Columbia Police Department shows the University of South Carolina senior hopping into the back of a black Chevy Impala early Friday morning, thinking the man inside was her Uber driver. Josephson was later found stabbed multiple times and her body was left in a field about 70 miles from campus.

David Rowland is accused of stabbing Samantha Josephson to death and leaving her body about 70 miles from the University of South Carolina campus
David Rowland is accused of stabbing Samantha Josephson to death and leaving her body about 70 miles from the University of South Carolina campus (Source: WIS)

“It’s pretty scary. It makes you kind of not want to take an Uber,” said LSU student, Anna Catherine Voison.

Students at LSU are horrified and say the heinous crime is a grim reminder of the dangers linked to those posing as rideshare drivers.

“It’s terrible to hear that you trust the app and you trust the people driving you and you know it turns out to be something so horrific,” Ryan Abboud added.

Nathaniel Rowland has been arrested in connection with the case. Police believe he snatched the criminal justice student after she got into the car he was driving, thinking it was her Uber. After a similar alleged kidnapping was reported at Tigerland back in March in Baton Rouge, students say no one is safe.

“I only take it when we’re in a group or multiple people are with us because you know, I’m scared to put my life into the hands of a stranger, you know. Too much is going on,” said Kilrain Popleon.

“Yeah. It definitely shows you that you’re not immune to it just because of where you live,” Abboud said.

Tips on the Uber website encourage safety for riders anytime they use the service by checking the app for the driver’s info. Riders are also encouraged to ensure that the driver, car model, and license plate all match and ask their driver to confirm their name. The company suggests anyone who uses their service to follow all these steps before getting inside a car.

“I guess, yeah, I mean, I’ve heard of all kind of stuff happening in Baton Rouge, so I’m always kind of on the lookout for that,” said Voison.

The next time they decide to catch a ride, they say they are taking things a step further and encouraging other riders to try to go in a group and make sure if they don’t feel comfortable, to choose safety over convenience.

“I’m the type that I’m going to ask questions about you,” said Popleon. “I’m looking good at them to make sure I know exactly how he looks and all kind of stuff like that just in case.”

While it’s too late for Josephson, students at LSU hope her death will drive home the importance of safety for others.

“Whenever something like this happens, it really opens your mind to the possibilities that you know, hey, the people picking you up might not be good people,” Abboud added.

Anyone interested in more safety tips from Uber can find them here.

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