Disturbing Details Found In Brianna Kupfer's Autopsy

A 24-year-old graduate student, studying architectural design at UCLA, was killed last January in a shocking murder (via People). In August, her autopsy report was revealed, highlighting her cause of death while at her workplace.

Brianna Kupfer worked at a furniture store called Croft House in Los Angeles, California. On January 13, she was working a shift when a customer came in who gave off a "bad vibe," as Kupfer texted to a friend, expressing unease about the situation. The customer was Shawn Laval Smith, a 31-year-old living in the area. He was reportedly causing Kupfer concern, because he kept leaving the store and then returning. 

According to People, Kupfer's manager didn't see that text for some time. By then, it was already too late for Kupfer. According to People, a customer found her about 15 minutes after the text was sent. Kupfer had been the victim of a horrific knife attack, as her newly-released autopsy report revealed.

A random knife attack

Brianna Kupfer and Shawn Laval Smith (above) did not appear to know each other, and Smith didn't appear to have a motive for the alleged attack, according to People. The Los Angeles Police Department reported that after the attack, Smith slipped out the back door of the store. People reports that the customer who found Kupfer called the police. Kupfer was covered in stab wounds, and died due to the severity of her injuries. For now, police believe the attack was completely done at random.

It's alleged that Smith didn't steal or take anything with him when he left the scene of the crime. People reports that police called Smith armed and dangerous as they began to search for him. The police went so far as to offer a $250,000 reward to anyone who could turn Smith in.

Smith was spotted on surveillance cameras after the attack as he walked to a convenience store, so police knew his identity from the start (per Oxygen). But he wasn't caught by police until January 19, six days after the murder.

The tragic autopsy details

The alleged murderer, Shawn Laval Smith, does actually have a criminal record dating back to 2016 (via the Los Angeles Times). In 2018, he pled guilty to a 2016 charge of resisting or assaulting a police officer. Then, after being released in 2018, he was charged with firing a flare gun into a vehicle that had a minor inside in 2019. In 2020, he was arrested on a misdemeanor charge, and in 2021, Smith was released on a $50,000 bond. In January 2021, he had vandalized a car and assaulted the arresting officers.

The details from Brianna Kupfer's autopsy report are not for the faint of heart. During the attack, Kupfer was stabbed 26 times in total. She was stabbed 11 times in her chest, while her arms were stabbed seven times. Kupfer had two stab wounds on her abdomen and one on her pelvis. Some of her vital organs and veins were severely damaged when the knife was plunged as deep as five inches into her body: Kupfer's liver, lungs, stomach, and aorta were all badly damaged from repeat stabbings. Per People, Kupfer's chest wounds left both of her lungs punctured.

The aftermath of the stabbing attack

Brianna Kupfer sustained so many serious injuries that her cause of death was exsanguination, or death by severe blood loss (via the Los Angeles Times). At the end of the report, Kupfer's death was declared a homicide. The autopsy, per ABC7, noted 26 serious stab wounds and 20 additional marks across Kupfer's body. ABC7 also reports that a 7-inch-long knife was found at the furniture store.

As of this writing, Smith's bail is $2 million, and he has not entered a plea yet. Smith reportedly had a "mental episode" during his court proceedings, slowing his plea entry. Fox News Digital reports that Smith has not been charged with any crimes yet, since he is still receiving a mental health evaluation. But if he is fit to stand trial and found guilty of murder, he could spend decades or even his entire life in prison. 

Fox News reports that Kupfer grew up in the Pacific Palisades area, just north of Santa Monica. She had a sister and two brothers. On January 20, family and friends held a memorial service for Kupfer outside the furniture store (per another report by the Los Angeles Times). The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office said they had reached out to the family to offer resources.