A University of Pennsylvania student, who went missing Jan. 2, was found dead in a park where he was last seen in California on Wednesday.

Blaze Bernstein, 19, was missing for more than a week since he left his parents’ home to meet a friend. He was last seen on Jan. 2 around 11 p.m. local time (2 a.m. EST, Jan. 3) at a park in the city of Lake Forest. Police were investigating his death as a homicide, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.

According to the Orange County Register, Bernstein was on winter break from college and visiting his family. On Jan. 2, Bernstein sent a text message to his high school friend, asking him to pick him up and take him to Borrego Park to meet a third person. The identity of the person remains unknown.

Annee Della Donna, an attorney and a friend of the Bernstein family, was cited as saying the pair arrived at the park around 10.30 p.m. local time (1.30 a.m. EST) and Bernstein went off alone into the park that had a playground, field basketball court and barbecue area.

When he did not return, his friend sent him text messages, which went unanswered. Bernstein’s cellphone was also switched off after a while.

Several search operations were conducted over the week for Bernstein after his parents reported him missing to the Orange County Sheriff department. During a search of the Foothill Ranch Park, which is a part of Borrego Park, Bernstein’s body was found in a bush surrounding the area. Sheriff's officials said Wednesday he was likely killed the night he disappeared.

Donna was quoted as saying by the OC Register last week: “He didn’t have anything with him. 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.”

Many celebrities took to social media to help search for Bernstein. Basketball star Kobe Bryant and Hollywood actors Jeremy Piven and Mayim Bialik were among those who posted messages about Bernstein.

The sophomore was planning to major in psychology and later study medicine, his father Gideon Bernstein said.

“We had a great family dinner, we ended the dinner, everyone was going up to their rooms. He decides to leave later in the evening. He’s a planner; he was intending to come home that night,” Gideon said.

Bernstein was the managing editor of a magazine for foodies at his university called Penn Appetit.

Gideon added: “So, he was very excited about that. He was working on that over the winter break and showed us the magazine they just published, which he significantly contributed to.”

The family did not believe drugs or alcohol were involved. “He has a zero-tolerance policy for this,” said the boy’s mother Jeanne Pepper Bernstein.

At a news conference, after his body was found, Gideon said the family was "devastated," and called Bernstein "a brilliant, colorful and charismatic man."

"As this investigation moves from search and rescue to homicide investigation, we ask for your continued support in providing tips and information to the Orange County Sheriff's Department," he added.

Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum, vice provost for university life at Penn, said in a statement reported by ABC News: "I came to know Blaze, and I grieve his passing as I do all student deaths."

She also said Bernstein "loved the written word and columns for the student newspaper The Daily Pennsylvanian. He was also a copy associate for the arts and culture magazine the newspaper.”