Josephson’s former boyfriend describes in testimony the agonizing search for her

Greg Corbishley, the former boyfriend of slain University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson, testifies during the trial of Nathaniel Rowland, who is accused of killing her on July 20, 2021
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Greg Corbishley and Samantha Josephson were always together, whether in-person or over the phone.

The two former University of South Carolina students went to Gamecock football games together, ate in Five Points and video-chatted with each other even when they lived just five minutes apart, Corbishley testified in court Tuesday.

“We did pretty much everything together,” Corbishley said.

Corbishley, a Charleston native, was in Mount Pleasant, S.C. on March 29, 2019. He remembers Josephson was at her apartment and feeling off after receiving some unspecified bad news about a family member’s health. She begged him to come back to Columbia.

“I really need you to be with me tonight,” Josephson told Corbishley, according to his testimony.

The two spoke, as they often did, before Corbishley went to the gym, he said. Josephson was still upset about her family member’s health condition and Corbishley spoke to her a couple times while he was at the gym, he said.

“She just wanted me to be around to make her feel a little better,” Corbishley said.

But Josephson had just been accepted into Drexel Law School. She was a senior at an SEC school and her friends wanted to celebrate her last few weeks in college, said Byron Gipson, a solicitor in the 5th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.

That’s why Corbishley, who was still in Mount Pleasant, told Josephson to “get her mind off” the family health issue that was upsetting her.

“I just told her to go out and have fun that night,” Corbishley testified.

Josephson, Cobishley and their friends had an app on their phones called Find My Friends that lets friends track each others’ locations. Corbishley watched on his phone as Josephson went to a mutual friend’s house, his name was Edgar, before arriving at Five Points at around 12:30 a.m., he said.

Josephson and some friends went to one of their favorite Five Points bars, the Bird Dog, outside of which was the infamous screenshot showing Josephson on the phone in the last moments she was seen alive, Tegan Berry, one of Josephson’s roommates, testified Tuesday during the trial.

At the Bird Dog, Josephson and her friends were just listening to music and socializing with friends, but Josephson was in the corner on her phone, Berry said.

Once Josephson got into her car, Corbishley noticed something was off. The car she was in was driving the wrong direction from her apartment, The Hub.

Corbishley called and texted Josephson, but she didn’t pick up. Texts Corbishley sent Josephson said the texts were delivered, but not read, so he tried reaching out to her through picture messaging app Snapchat. That didn’t work either, he testified.

For the first time in their relationship, Josephson stopped sharing her location with Corbishley at around 2:40 a.m., he testified. The last place she had shared with him was on Montgomery Avenue in the Rosewood neighborhood. Prosecutors say this is when Josephson was in the car with the man accused of killing her, Nathaniel Rowland.

Corbishley never saw Josephson alive again.

Corbishley tried reaching out to Josephson’s roommates, but they hadn’t heard from her either. Finally, at about 5 a.m., thinking Josephson had left her phone in an Uber, he went to bed. Berry, too, went to bed thinking Josephson was probably okay, she testified.

“I thought maybe her phone was left in an Uber or something along the lines of that,” Berry said.

When Corbishley and Berry awoke, they called her place of work, Liberty Taproom, where Josephson had “uncharacteristically” not shown up for the 11 a.m. shift, Corbishley said.

Berry, Corbishley and other friends began searching for Josephson. They filed a missing persons report. Berry and friends even broke into Josephson’s laptop, where the found a receipt for a canceled Uber trip, the trip Josephson had booked, and had thought was the was the correct Uber when she stepped into the 2017 Chevrolet Impala, Berry testified.

Then, they searched around Montgomery Avenue multiple times. They looked through the grass for a lost phone. They called the jail, the hospital — nothing. They asked Five Points restaurant owners to view surveillance footage. They started with Breakers, which has a good view of the area, but saw nothing. Then, they tried Bird Dog.

“We had some mutual friends at Bird Dog so we were able to go upstairs and look at some of the footage,” Berry said of the surveillance video. There, on surveillance video, Berry saw Josephson in an orange shirt and platform shoes standing outside.

They told Columbia Police Department about the video and officers began to investigate. Later, Corbishley and some of Josephson’s friends were called into police headquarters to make a statement. After he gave his statement, he went back to the lobby and was ushered into a side room.

When Corbishley walked into the room, he learned the search was over.

“We waited for about 10-15 minutes and they let us into what I would call a conference room and there was Mister and Mrs. Josephson are looking distraught,” Corbishley testified. He said he was hoping the distraught look was just because they hadn’t yet found Josephson, but they had.

“They broke the news to us right there,” Corbishley testified. “After that I just broke down. My legs collapsed under me and I almost just blacked out from disbelief.”

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