Brunswick murder suspect moved due to mental health concerns
Star-News - 11/27/2018
Nov. 27--BRUNSWICK COUNTY -- A woman accused of killing her mother in Oak Island has been moved to a state facility because of concerns about her mental health.
Julia Louise Copenhaver, 24, was arrested Oct. 25 and charged with first-degree murder after her mother, Susan Copenhaver, was found dead in her Oak Island home. According to a safekeeping order issued one day after her arrest, Brunswick County jail staff requested she be moved to another facility. The request also came after she was charged with malicious conduct by a prisoner after reportedly spitting at a guard.
"Inmate has an extensive mental health history. Was just released from a mental health hospital in Virginia last week," the order reads. "Our medical staff advised the inmate needs extensive mental health treatment that they cannot provide."
The N.C. Department of Public Safety confirmed that Copenhaver is being held at the N.C. Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh.
Copenhaver has yet to be indicted, and her next court date has not been set following a first appearance in Brunswick County last month.
According to search warrants, Oak Island police found Susan Copenhaver dead in a closet at 139 NE Second St. with "obvious signs of trauma and penetrating wounds." "Cutting instruments" were also found near the woman's body, warrants state. A StarNews request for Copenhaver's autopsy submitted to the N.C. Medical Examiner's Office has yet to be answered.
Warrants indicate that Julia Copenhaver answered the door when police came to make a wellness check that day, then immediately sat down on the floor while officers searched the house where her mother lived part-time.
Among the items police collected at the crime scene were two knives, scissors with "reddish stains," three 9mm bullets (but no gun), electronics, bedding found underneath Susan Copenhaver's body and a ripped piece of paper with "Virginia State Police" written on it.
The Copenhaver family also had a home in Springfield, Virginia, records show.
In calls to 911 the day of the alleged murder, a man who identified himself as Julia Copenhaver's brother and Susan Copenhaver's son said that Julia had checked herself out of a mental hospital, then driven to North Carolina. He told 911 dispatchers that his sister believed that their mother was abusing her.
"She was like, 'I had to defend myself,'" the man told 911. "She's been having this delusion that my mom is public enemy No. 1."
Court records show that officials determined Julia Copenhaver was unable to procure her own attorney, and assigned her a public defender in Oak Island.
Reporter Cammie Bellamy can be reached at Cammie.Bellamy@StarNewsOnline.com.
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