Autopsy: Oak Island mother stabbed, bludgeoned to death

Julia Louise Copenhaver (Photo: Brunswick County Sheriff's Office)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (STARNEWS) — A woman killed at her Oak Island home in October died after being brutally stabbed and bludgeoned, according to an autopsy and investigation report released by the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Susan Lewis Copenhaver, 63, was found dead Oct. 25 in her home at 139 NE Second St. Oak Island police arrested her daughter, Julia Louise Copenhaver, 24, of Virginia, and charged her with first-degree murder in connection with her mother’s death.

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In 911 calls to Brunswick County authorities the day of the alleged murder, family members told emergency dispatchers that Julia Copenhaver had checked herself out of a mental health facility in Virginia the day before and disappeared from the area. Family members told dispatchers that Julia Copenhaver had been suffering from paranoid delusions, and could be a danger to her mother. Documents indicate the family had a part-time residence in Oak Island, where Susan Copenhaver was staying at the time.

According to Susan Copenhaver’s autopsy, the woman suffered dozens of stab wounds: 35 to the head, 10 to the neck, 18 to the torso and more than two dozen to her extremities. The autopsy states that Copenhaver’s body also showed evidence of extensive blunt-force injuries, including to her head. According to the autopsy, Copenhaver’s left leg was severed below the knee after she died.

The medical examiner’s investigation report states that Copenhaver’s body was found wrapped in a quilt, lying on her back in a walk-in closet of the master bedroom. A trash bag containing a small fire extinguisher, used paper towels and clothing was found near the body.

The report states that the bed had been stripped, and blood-soiled linens were found in the home’s washing machine. Near the entrance to the master bedroom, another bag containing a bloody pair of scissors, a butcher’s knife and a hammer was also found.

Read more from the StarNews here.