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'It's horrifying': Former neighbor shocked by arrest of suspect in USC student's killing

A former neighbor says watching the suspect grow up, you’d never expect him to be charged with murder.

NEW ZION, S.C. — One former neighbor of the suspect charged with killing a University of South Carolina’s student says they are in disbelief that the man they knew is connected to a horrible crime. 

Nathaniel Rowland, 24 is charged with murder in the death of 21-year-old Samantha Josephson, a senior at USC from Robbinsville, New Jersey.

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Columbia police say she mistakenly got into his vehicle early on March 29 in Columbia's Five Points, believing it was her Uber ride. Officers say he killed her, then dumped her body in a wooded area in Clarendon County, roughly 70 miles away. 

The people who live in New Zion, the rural community where her body was found, are shocked Samantha Josephson’s body was discovered in their community.

According to online records, the man who’s charged with the murder of the college student’s death used to live down the road from where her body was found.

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News 19 spoke with a former neighbor of his who also knows the family. We chose to not identify this person to protect their identity.

“To know someone you knew just about half your life may have done something like this, it’s horrifying,” said the former neighbor.

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Since Friday afternoon, the former neighbor says their family has lost sleep after finding out the news and people continue to drive to the road they live on to see the crime scene.

The person says they know the family well.

“Good people. Church-going. You could never say anything bad about him nor his family,” explained the former neighbor.

They say watching him grow up, you’d never expect him to be charged with murder.

RELATED: 'We loved Sami': friends, family holds vigil for slain USC student Samantha Josephson

“He was a sweetheart. A gentleman,” said the former neighbor. “You would never know him to do something like this. I knew him since he was a little boy. He was always well-mannered, went to school, went to college. Never got in trouble. It’s still hard to believe he may or may not have done something like this.”

They say for the time being, all she can think about is the family.

RELATED: USC president urges safety after murder of student who went missing in Five Points

“My heart goes out to her, to the family. I have a daughter. Nobody expects to see their child off to college and then receive a phone call saying your daughter has been found dead or missing. Nobody wants to hear that phone call. I know I don’t.”

News 19 talked to several people who live in this community and right now, they’re a little on edge.

They used to sleep with their doors unlocked but for the time being, that will change.

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