UPDATE: After his arrest last week, suspect Todd Kohlhepp admitted to four murders committed in 2003. Authorities have already discovered three bodies on his property – including the body of Charles Carver in a shallow grave – and are continuing to search for more. In a chilling twist to the story, the Greenville News reported Monday morning that the Spartanberg County Sheriff’s Office found an Amazon account linked to Kohlhepp, which had been used to post twisted reviews of weapons and tactical equipment, seeming to joke about using them on human victims.
Two months ago, on the last day of August, a South Carolina couple, Kala Brown, 30, and her boyfriend Charles Carver, 32, disappeared without a word. “It’s like you have a hot skillet, and they are two drops of water you put on it. They just disappear,” Brown’s mother, Bobbie Newsom, told NBC News in early October.
Within days of that report, suspicious posts on Carver’s Facebook page assured family and friends the couple was fine. Newsom, along with Carver’s mother Joanne Shiflet, insisted the two wouldn’t go days – let alone weeks – without contacting their families directly, and suggested the account was hacked.
The moms were right. Yesterday the Spartenburg County Sheriff’s Office found Brown chained inside a metal container on the property of 45-year-old Todd Kohlhepp, a real estate agent and pilot with a well-documented past, who upon arrest immediately requested an attorney, according to Spartanburg Sheriff Chuck Wright.
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Brown was transferred to a nearby hospital for treatment, although it appears the psychological effects will outlast the physical ones. She told authorities she had been in the “cage” for the last two months – “chained like a dog,” according to Wright – and that there could be as many as four bodies on the property, leading to speculation from the sheriff it might be a serial killer case. Questioned by media earlier today, Wright said the department didn’t want to pressure Brown in a traumatic time, and that she had given him more information that he wouldn’t yet release.
Kohlhepp was booked into the Spartanburg County Jail yesterday on a kidnapping charge, as investigators continue the search for Carver. Wright informed reporters the department is processing a car found hidden in a ravine on the property that they believe belongs to Carver. Local NBC affiliate WYFF reported this afternoon that cadaver dogs hit on possible remains near where Brown was found. During a bond hearing today, a county solicitor reportedly said Brown told investigators she saw Kohlhepp shoot Carver.
Though a murder charge is now also likely, this is the second time Kohlhepp has found himself in trouble on a kidnapping charge. Fox Carolina posted a story yesterday detailing his troubled childhood, quoting a judge who wrote Kohlhepp has, since the age of nine, been “impulsive, explosive and preoccupied with sexual content.”
In 1987, at age 15, Kohlhepp was forced to register as a sex offender after pleading guilty to kidnapping a 14-year-old Arizona girl who accused him of rape. The girl told police Kohlhepp threatened to kill her and her siblings if she told anyone what happened, according to documents obtained by Fox Carolina. From the report: “‘When contacted by police, the defendant was holding a .22 caliber rifle which was pointed at the ceiling. When questioned regarding this incident, the defendant fully admitted his [guilt].'”
Since then, he became a licensed pilot, recognized by the FAA in 2013 for his commitment to safety standards. In the last day, Kohlhepp’s public Facebook page have been slammed with messages expressing hope that he will spend a significant time in prison. In the bond hearing, prosecutors signaled that could be a reality.