Maria Howard testified that she also spotted Nathaniel Rowland cleaning a hunting knife

By Chris Harris
July 22, 2021 10:08 AM

The former girlfriend of the man accused of killing Samantha Josephson testified she saw blood inside the suspect's car hours after the victim vanished — and also saw her boyfriend cleaning a hunting knife.

The Post and Courier, WIS, and WLTX were present for the second day of Nathaniel Rowland's kidnapping and murder trial, when jurors heard from Maria Howard, the woman Rowland was dating in 2019 when Josephson — a senior at the University of South Carolina — allegedly entered his car by mistake believing it was her Uber ride.

Howard told the court on Wednesday that, hours after Josephson vanished, she questioned Rowland, 27, about the blood she noticed in the back seat and on the dashboard of his car. She recalled a sheet had been draped over the seat, according to The Post and Courier.

Josephson, 21, was last seen at a bar in Columbia, South Carolina, in the early morning hours of March 29, 2019. 

The New Jersey native was later found dead by hunters in a remote area of Clarendon County — about 65 miles away from where police believe she got into a black Chevy Impala driven by Rowland, thinking it was her ride home.

Samantha Josephson
Samantha Josephson
| Credit: Facebook

Authorities said Josephson was stabbed to death.

From the witness stand, Howard later testified that she borrowed Rowland's car to take her daughter to the doctor, and blood ended up on her child's shoes.

She said she jokingly asked Rowland if he'd hit a dog with his car and then put the dying animal in the back seat. 

During her testimony, Howard also testified that she saw Rowland using bleach to clean the car, and later, saw him cleaning a knife.

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She said that she asked him why he was cleaning the car, and Rowland told her it was none of her business.

Josephson was weeks away from graduating with a degree in political science when she was killed. She had planned to go to the Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law in Philadelphia upon her graduation.

Her death has inspired action from state lawmakers, who filed legislation soon after her killing requiring all ride-share vehicles to display an illuminated sign featuring their company's name. 

The ride-share industry has also implemented changes, like clearer displays of driver license plates, following Josephson's death.

Rowland has pleaded not guilty.

Testimony is expected to resume in his trial today.