woodward bernstein
Samuel Lincoln Woodward (L) is a suspected of murdering Blaze Bernstein (R) in California. Police handout / family handout

A man suspected of stabbing a 19-year-old university student more than 20 times and burying him in a park has told investigators that the victim tried to kiss him before his death.

The body of University of Pennsylvania student Blaze Bernstein was found buried in a shallow grave on 9 January in Borrego Park, Lake Forest, California, around 50 miles (80km) southeast of Los Angeles.

Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, was arrested and taken into custody Friday on suspicion of homicide.

No weapon has been found but Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes said DNA evidence linked him to the death of Bernstein.

Police say that the pair knew each other from high school and a search warrant affidavit said that Bernstein may have been planning to sexually pursue Woodward.

The Orange County Register reported that the document noted that Woodward told investigators that Bernstein kissed him on the lips, and that Woodward rejected his advances.

But the affidavit also noted that Bernstein had texted two female friends in June that Woodward had actually made advances on him.

Bernstein wrote that the suspect was about to "hit on me" and "he made me promise not to tell anyone ... but I have texted everyone, uh oh."

CBS News reported that Woodward picked up Bernstein from his home whilst the alleged victim was visiting his family and drove with him to several places.

Woodward told investigators, according to the affidavit, that he rejected Bernstein after he kissed him on the lips before Bernstein walked into the park alone.

The Register reported that Woodward claimed he waited for an hour before driving to meet with his girlfriend, and returned later to look for his friend.

Investigators stated in the document that Woodward could not remember his girlfriend's last name or where she lived.

Bernstein was reported missing by his parents on 3 January and his body was discovered buried in a shallow grave that was partially washed away by rain.

The LA Times reported that Bernstein's parents Gideon Bernstein and Jeanne Pepper Bernstein said in a statement: "Our son was a beautiful gentle soul who we loved more than anything.

"We were proud of everything he did and who he was. He had nothing to hide. We are in solidarity with our son and the LGBTQ community."