Missing college student Blaze Bernstein found dead; foul play suspected: Police

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department announced on Wednesday that the body of a missing college student was found in Borrengo Park, in Lake Forest, California.

According to a public statement released on the department’s Facebook account, a body matching the description of 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein was found on Tues. afternoon at around 2 p.m., lying under a brush surrounding the park area he was last seen at. The teen’s death is being investigated as a homicide.

An autopsy is scheduled for Weds. No other information will be available until the autopsy is complete. Police stated that no suspects or persons of interests have been named, and no one is yet in custody.

Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.

Timeline of Blaze Bernstein’s Disappearance

Jan. 10

Despite previous reports indicating that the search for a missing college student ended after finding no clues in a California wilderness area, investigators confirmed that they are still looking for him.

On Jan. 9, NBC reported that search efforts to find Blaze Bernstein, of California, ended after searching the Whiting Ranch Wilderness in Southern California and finding no clues. The announcement, however, only meant that authorities are concentrating on other areas, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian.

"La Croixs before boys." –Alex

Posted by Blaze Bernstein on Wednesday, November 2, 2016


“Although that specific search and rescue effort in that specific area has ended does not mean the search for Blaze has ended,” Carrie Braun, spokesperson for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said. “[This case] will continue to be actively a missing person’s case investigation until they find something that will lead them otherwise, and up until this point, everything that we have found is still leading us towards a missing person’s case.”

According to Blaze’s father, Gideon Bernstein, his son lives alone in at an off-campus location in Pa., where he attended the University of Pennsylvania. He disappeared last Tuesday night while at Borrego Park, in the Foothill Ranch area of Lake Forest, California.

Previous reports indicated that the college student, visiting home on winter break, was waiting for his friend who stepped into the park’s restroom. When the friend returned, Blaze had disappeared. Yet, NBC reports that attorney and family friend, Annee Della Donna, explained that Blaze and unnamed high school friend pulled up to the park in a vehicle, and the friend remained in the car while Blaze got out to meet another friend.

Gideon Bernstein stated that just a week prior to returning home for a temporary family visited, Blaze was appointed the managing editor for a student-run food magazine Penn Appetit, at his school. Gideon Blaze also said his son was in “good spirits” and didn’t display any behavior that alerted anyone to any issues.

“He was having a good time with us and in good spirits.”

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Blaze is white, weighs about 130 pounds, stands 5 feet 8, and has brown hair and blue eyes. At the time he disappeared, Bernstein had a dark jacket on with a gray shirt and white Adidas shoes. He left behind most of his belongings, including his eyeglasses, wallet, credit card, and keys. He had his cellphone with him, but it was turned off around an hour after he disappeared.

“He didn’t have anything with him,” Donna said. “He didn’t have his glasses or his medication. He didn’t bring his wallet or a phone charger. I don’t think he planned on this being a long trip and he just disappeared.”

“He made dinner for the family that night,” Donna continued. “They had a great evening together. He was excited about going back to college and he was moving to a new apartment. He was on the Internet that night buying things. It all points to a kid who was not depressed, who was happy and wanted to go back to school.”

Anyone with any information is urged to contact authorities at 714-647-7000. 

Jan. 8

Loved ones continue to desperately search for Pennsylvania college student, Blaze Bernstein, who vanished without a trace last Tuesday from Borrego Park, in the Foothill Ranch area of Lake Forest, California.

Los Angeles Times reports that 19-year-old Blaze was visiting family in Foothill Ranch on break from his studies the University of Pennsylvania, when he disappeared from a park after his friend went into the park’s restroom. The college student left behind his belongings, including his eyeglasses, wallet, credit cards, and keys.

His parents are hoping drones, currently being utilized, will help bring Blaze home.

“If there’s any way you can come home, whatever has happened, wherever you’ve been, whoever you’ve talked to — it doesn’t matter,”said Blaze’s mother, Jeanne Pepper Bernstein. “We love you so much that we would give up everything we have to have you back.”

The friend with Blaze when he disappeared said that the missing student disappeared at around 11 p.m. while waiting for the friend to return from the restroom. Law enforcement have cleared the friend from any wrongdoing. Officials also don’t believe foul play was involved in the teen’s disappearance, yet have no explanation of why he vanished or where he could be.

Pepper Bernstein said her son was scheduled to fly back to Pennsylvania on Sunday, but there’s nothing that indicates he made it back.

“He’s a phenomenal, unique, interesting person,” Pepper Bernstein told the LA Times. “Blaze was like any normal kid his age at an Ivy League school.”

Prior to his disappearance, Blaze spoke with a friend on social media, but the app doesn’t keep conversations, according to authorities.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Blaze is white, weighs about 130 pounds, stands 5 feet 8, and has brown hair and blue eyes. At the time he disappeared, Bernstein had a dark jacket on with a gray shirt and white Adidas shoes.

Anyone with any information is urged to contact authorities at 714-647-7000. 

Jan. 7

California authorities are searching for a 19-year-old college student who suddenly disappeared while home on winter break, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Investigators say Blaze Bernstein, a University of Pennsylvania student studying pre-med, didn’t return to his parents’ home south of Los Angeles Tuesday night after going to a park with a friend. The friend told police that he went into a restroom at the park and that Bernstein was gone when he came out, according to Carrie Braun, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

“We do not believe foul play was involved at this point, and the friend is only a witness, not a suspect or person of concern,” Braun said.

Search teams and canine units on Saturday scoured the park, which is near a canyon, for any sign of Bernstein, including his cellphone. The phone would not accept calls, the newspaper reports.

“We’re doing everything we can to find Blaze and bring him home,” said Lt. Brad Valentine. “We’re hoping he’s, perhaps, incapacitated and in need of medical attention.”

He added: “It’s going to be a slow, tedious search as we get out there and beat the bushes for any sign of him.”

Bernstein is said to have left numerous personal items at home, such as his glasses, keys and wallet. His parents said he hadn’t even said goodbye.

“We didn’t even hear him leave,” his father, Gideon Bernstein, told the Times. “Blaze left the house around 10:30 p.m. or so, but exactly why he left is a big mystery.”

Volunteers turned out on Saturday to help in the search effort, including family friends Katherine and John Coster.

“We run in the canyon quite often, so we know it well,” Katherine Coster said. “We’re still hopeful, all of us.”

Blaze Bernstein was scheduled to return to Pennsylvania on Sunday for the spring semester. Before he left home Tuesday night, Bernstein had communicated with a friend using social media apps that didn’t leave records of conversations, police say.

Bernstein is white, about 130 pounds, 5 feet 8 and has brown hair and blue eyes. At the time he disappeared, Bernstein had a dark jacket on with a gray shirt and white Adidas shoes.

“There are so many unknowns to deal with,” family friend Annee Della Donna said. “We’re talking about a brilliant kid who goes to a small park five minutes from home, then disappears.”

Call investigators at 714-647-7000 to report information about the case.

[Feature Photo: Blaze Bernstein/Facebook]