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Who is Brianna Kupfer? Everything we know about UCLA grad student’s fatal stabbing

‘A kind soul and always was trying to make herself better and everything around her better,’ her father says

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Wednesday 19 January 2022 12:52 GMT
Neighbour of young woman stabbed to death in LA speaks out
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Brianna Kupfer has been described by loved ones as a “kind soul” who “glowed with positivity”.

At the time of her death, the 24-year-old was seeking a graduate degree in architectural design at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

She was also working as a design consultant at the Croft House upscale furniture boutique in Hancock Park in the west of Los Angeles where she was murdered on 13 January. She leaves behind her parents and three siblings.

Ms Kupfer was born and raised in Los Angeles and attended Brentwood High School. She then graduated from the University of Miami.

Ms Kupfer’s father, Todd Kupfer, remembered her as always trying to improve the world around her.

“She was a kind soul and always was trying to make herself better and everything around her better,” the heartbroken father said. “She cared about people.”

Ms Kupfer’s aunt said that her niece had a “big heart” and “loved and was loved”.

Her friends told CBS: “The world has been robbed of a productive member of society – who glowed with positivity.”

“I was just hoping to visit the store, and can’t believe the news,” Lisa Finkenstaedt, an interior designer who frequently worked with Croft House, told Fox 11. “It’s so terrible, it’s so upsetting. I’ve emailed with her a few times. She’s a good salesperson.”

(LA Police Department)

Police say Ms Kupfer was working alone on the afternoon of 13 January when a man came into the shop, killed her, and left.

Riley Rea, a co-owner of the shop, called the attack “disgusting and unexpected”.

Mr Rea said Ms Kupfer was beloved by fellow employees over the year and a half that she worked with him.

“She was mature beyond her years,” he told The Los Angeles Times. “I’m absolutely devastated for her and her family. It just seems so disgusting and unexpected. Really there are no words to say how shocked we are to lose such a wonderful person.”

Mr Rea said he’d never seen anything like the attack in the 12 years that the store has been open on North La Brea Avenue.

“Detectives have determined the suspect was not known to the victim and was a random walk-in to the store,” the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement.

“The suspect attacked the victim with a knife and fled the scene through the back door. There is no known motive at this time.”

Police say they were alerted to the incident by a Croft House customer, who came into the store about 20 minutes after the attack and was shocked to find Ms Kupfer’s body. By that time, the LAPD says, Ms Kupfer was already dead.

On Tuesday, police identified the suspect as 31-year-old Shawn Laval Smith, who is said to have a lengthy rap sheet and believed to be homeless. Authorities warned Mr Smith should be considered “armed and dangerous” and asked anyone who sees him to call 911 immediately.

A memorial to Ms Kupfer has grown outside of the store with flowers, candles, messages, and photos. A vigil is set to be held at the site on Thursday.

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