Ivy League murder? UPenn student found dead in California park; homicide investigation launched

A week after he vanished in the area, the body of a University of Pennsylvania student was found Tuesday in a Southern California park -- prompting investigators to launch a homicide investigation into the 19-year-old’s death.

Blaze Bernstein’s body was discovered in the brush surrounding Borrego Park in Foothill Ranch community, the Orange County Sheriff's Department announced Wednesday. Bernstein was reported missing when he didn’t return home after he went walking in the park to meet another person on Jan. 2. He was last seen about 11 p.m. that night, and his phone stopped working about an hour later, FOX5 San Diego reported.

“Sheriff’s investigators are actively following multiple leads, but no suspect is in custody,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

An autopsy was set to be performed Wednesday.

Bernstein, a pre-med student at the Ivy League university, was back home in Lake Forest on winter break. He hitched a ride from a friend to meet another individual at the park — but went missing after he went to look for that person. The friend who was initially with Bernstein said he went to a bathroom and left the park after he couldn't find the UPenn student, according to KTLA.

The student’s disappearance led to a dayslong search that involved authorities using drones to try and locate the 19-year-old. Bernstein's parents previously said they believed their son wasn’t planning to be gone for an extended time because he had left his wallet, identification card and glasses at home.

Bernstein was expected to return to campus on Sunday, the Orange County Register reported.