Missing Lake Forest student found dead in Borrego Park

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LAKE FOREST (CNS) – A body found near Borrego Park by Orange County sheriff’s investigators was identified today as that of missing University of Pennsylvania student Blaze Bernstein, and his death is being investigated as a homicide.

Sheriff’s officials said the body was found around 2 p.m. Tuesday in some brush surrounding Foothill Ranch park, which is adjacent to Borrego Park. No details were released on the cause of death or the condition of the body. Sheriff’s officials said an autopsy will be performed Wednesday.

No suspects were in custody, and investigators asked anyone with information to contact the sheriff’s department at (714) 647-7000.

Bernstein was last seen around 11 p.m. Jan. 2 and was reported missing Jan. 3.
Sheriff’s officials and volunteers spent the weekend searching Borrego Park and the Whiting Ranch area. They began searching the Foothill Ranch park area Tuesday afternoon, leading to the discovery of the body, officials said.

Bernstein, who was visiting relatives while on winter break from the University of Pennsylvania, went missing after going to Borrego Park with a friend to meet another person, said Annee Della Donna, an attorney and friend of the family.

He had sent a text message at 9:30 p.m. Jan. 2 with his family’s Lake Forest address for a high school buddy to pick him up and take him to the park to meet a third person, she said.

The park is five minutes away from the family home and Bernstein and his friend got there at 10:30 p.m., the attorney said. Bernstein went off alone into the park while his friend waited back in the car, she said.

Bernstein’s friend eventually began sending text messages to him when he didn’t return, but did not hear back from him, she said. The friend left and then returned at 4 a.m. to look for Bernstein again.

Eventually, the location device on Bernstein’s phone stopped functioning and the phone was turned off, Della Donna said.

“He didn’t have anything with him,” she 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.”

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