Ivy League student Blaze Bernstein found ‘killed’ in park
The body of an Ivy League student who went missing while visiting his family for the winter holiday has been found in a park nearby to his family home.
Blaze Bernstein, 19, went missing more than a week ago. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department say they are investigating his death as a homicide.
He was last seen on 2 January around 23:00 local time at a park in the city of Lake Forest.
Celebrities had appealed on social media for help from the public.
Basketball legend Kobe Bryant and Hollywood actors Jeremy Piven and Mayim Bialik had posted about the missing teenager.
Mr Bernstein’s parents last saw the University of Pennsylvania student after a friend picked him up in his car following a dinner at home with his family.
The two went to meet a third person at the Borrego Park, which is about 50 miles (80km) south of Los Angeles, officials say.
His parents reported him missing after he failed to show up for a dentist appointment the next day.
“The minute he didn’t show up for that dental appointment I knew something way really, really wrong,” said his mother, Jeanne Bernstein.
“It’s inexplicable. Honestly, this is not a kid that just wanders off into the dark. He’s a planner, he’s meticulous, he’s brilliant, he’s a chemist. Someone like that doesn’t just run off into the dark.”
Authorities are not divulging the cause of death, or the condition of his body, according to a statement from investigators.
“Sheriff’s investigators are actively following multiple leads, but no suspect is in custody,” the sheriff’s statement adds.
More than 25 police officers had combed the park for over three days, and also scoured an adjacent wilderness area called Whiting Ranch.
Drones were also deployed in the search.
Orange County spokeswoman Carrie Braun told the Orange County Register that “the change in the weather helped [the body] be more readily seen”, in a reference to the rain storm that brought mudslides to parts of southern California earlier this week.
On Tuesday, Mr Bernstein’s body was discovered in brush surrounding the park, which is a 10-minute walk from the family home.
A post-mortem examination is scheduled for Wednesday.