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

A 21-year-old USC student was last seen outside a bar in Five Points during early morning hours Friday. Police say she was murdered shortly after.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A 21-year-old USC student was last seen outside a bar in Five Points during early morning hours Friday. Police say she was murdered shortly after.

In a press conference Saturday, Columbia Police Chief Holbrook says Samantha Josephson got into a car thinking it was her Uber ride home. That car belonged to 24-year-old Nathaniel David Rowland, who is now charged with murder in the Josephson's death.

RELATED: USC student got into wrong car, was kidnapped and killed by suspect, police say

Following the incident, University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides told students that their "safety and well-being" is the school's "number one concern."

"We care about you and are here for you," the president stated in a letter to students, along with a list of tips to follow when making plans:

  • Remember the tenets of "Stand Up Carolina": be aware of your surroundings; look out for one another; be active bystanders
  • Travel in groups, stay together and stay in well-lit areas
  • Make use of the USC shuttles to make sure you get home safely when leaving Five Points
  • Only get in shuttles, taxis or rideshares at the designated pickup zone, which is patrolled by Columbia and USC police officers.
  • Exercise best practices when using services like Uber and Lyft: Look for clearly marked vehicles that match the description and license plate number in your app; and always ask the driver who he or she is there to pick up before opening the door
  • If you have not already done so, download the RAVE Guardian safety app, set up your profile and learn how to use it

The letter ended with, "Look out for one another Gamecocks."

A counseling center is available at the university from 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday. For 24/7 counseling, call 803-777-5223. If you ever feel in danger, call 911 or the USC Police Department at 803-777-4215.

Full letter:

"Dear Students, 

It has been a difficult week. Please know that your safety and well-being is our number one concern. 

Our counseling center has regular Sunday hours from 2-8 p.m. for drop-in sessions and throughout the week 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can also reach 24/7 counseling services by calling 803-777-5223. If you feel in danger call 911 or the USC Police Department at 803-777-4215. 

As you make plans for the weekend:

  • Remember the tenets of Stand Up Carolina: 
    • be aware of your surroundings,
    • look out for one another,
    • be active bystanders.
  • Travel in groups, stay together and stay in well lit areas.
  • Leaving Five Points, make use of the USC shuttles to make sure you get home safely.
  • Only get in shuttles, taxis or rideshares at the designated pickup zone. It is patrolled by Columbia and USC police officers.
  • Exercise best practices when using services like Uber and Lyft: look for clearly marked vehicles that match the description and license plate number in your app and always ask the driver who he or she is there to pick up before opening the door.
  • If you have not already done so, download the RAVE Guardian safety app, set up your profile and learn how to use it.

We care about you and are here for you. 

Look out for one another Gamecocks. 

Harris Pastides, President 

Luke Rankin, Student Government President"