written by C.W.S.
On November 3rd, police were led to the 100-acre property of Todd Kohlhepp in South Carolina. A tip came from the Spartanburg County sex crimes investigators, who were able to trace the last known cellphone signal of a missing couple to Kohlhepp’s rural acreage in Woodruff. When a deputy and her colleagues went to the property to serve a search warrant to Kohlhepp, she thought she heard banging coming from the woods. As her and the other deputies followed the noises, they came upon a 30-foot metal shipping container. They knocked on the side and heard the voice of 30-year-old Kala Brown, who had been missing since late August, begging police to help her. Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright told the media that Kala had been “chained like a dog” inside the shipping container for the two months since she had been reported missing, stating it was "a hellish place to be locked in hot weather. No lights, no windows, no air flow." Kala told the deputies, who used tools found on the property to free her from the chain, that her boyfriend had been shot and killed in front of her and was buried on the property. She also told them that she believed they would find at least four more bodies during their search.
Kohlhepp later admitted to the murder of Kala’s boyfriend, 32-year-old Charlie Carver, whose body was found the next day. Kohlhepp, a real estate agent, had hired them to do cleaning work on his overgrown property.
Kohlhepp also admitted to the killing of four other people on November 6, 2003, in case that has come to be known as the “Superbike Murders.” Kohlhepp, who was described as a disgruntled customer, allegedly shot and killed Superbike Motorsports business owner Scott Ponder and his mother, Beverly Guy, service manager Brian Lucas, and employee Chris Sherbert.
On November 6th, Kohlhepp also lead police to the remains of two more people on his property whose bodies were identified Wednesday as Meagan Coxie, 25, and Johnny Coxie, 29.
Police also found numerous weapons, including 9mm handguns, silencers, assault rifles, and an "unbelievable" amount of ammunition on his property. Investigators are unsure of how he obtained the weapons, as he was both a felon and a sex-offender.
What we know about Todd Kohlhepp
Todd Christopher Kohlhepp was born on March 7, 1971 in Florida, and spent his childhood in Georgia. His parents divorced when he was between one and two years old. Early on he showed aggression and other troubling behavior, and at nine-years-old was described as “explosive,” and “preoccupied with sexual content.” His father once stated that his son only felt anger, and was capable of no other emotions. Other instances of violence include the shooting of a dog with a BB gun, the poisoning of his goldfish with Clorox Bleach, and threats of killing his mother.
A registered sex offender, Kohlhepp was convicted in October of 1987 of the 1986 kidnapping and sexual assault of his 14-year-old neighbor in Arizona. He was only 15 at the time the crime was committed. The girl was threatened with a revolver and then tied up and raped by Kohlhepp, who was sentenced to 15 years. He said he was unsure why he raped the girl, but stated he was upset because the victim had crushes on his friends but only sought friendship with Kohlhepp. The judge of the case expressed doubt that Kohlhepp could be rehabilitated.
After his release in 2001, Kohlhepp moved to South Carolina to be near his mother. He worked as a graphic designer before he was granted a real estate license in 2006 after lying about his criminal history on his application. He then worked to build his own firm that employed at least a dozen people. In May 2014, Kohlhepp bought the 100-acre property in Woodruff where Kala was found.
Alleged Online Presence
On November 9th, the Greenville News reported that an Amazon user who calling themself “me,” had a wish list linked to “Todd Kohlhepp.” It is not certain that it is the same Todd Kohlhepp, but the user started leaving overtly unnerving comments on products beginning in May 2014, the same time that Kohlhepp purchased his Woodruff property.
A review was posted for a shovel with a folding handle: “keep in car for when you have to hide the bodies and you left the full size shovel at home.”
Another review was left for a knife: “havnet (sic) stabbed anyone yet...... yet.... but I am keeping the dream alive and when I do, it will be with a quality tool like this...”
In a review about a padlock the user wrote: “solid locks.. have 5 on a shipping container.. wont stop them.. but sure will slow them down til they are too old to care. (sic)” and in another review referenced lyrics to The Eagles song Hotel California: “Now my locks have locks... place is hotel california now.”
The user also reviewed other products including tactical vests, carabineers, gun magazine pouches, weapon mounts, and emergency medical kits.
The reference to Hotel California has been of particular interest to investigators because after the disappearance of Kala and Charlie, someone continued to post to Charlie’s Facebook and referenced the final lyrics of the same song: “Last thing I remember, I was running for the door. I had to find the passage back to the place I was before. ‘Relax,’ said the nightman. ‘We are programmed to receive. You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave.’”
The person who was posting sometimes spoke as if they were Charlie himself, claiming at he and Kala had gotten married, bought a house, and were expecting a child. Other times they implied that they were his estranged wife, responding to an inquiry about the new posts: “Well i would keep my nose clean and out off it. And how do you know my hubby?”
Kohlhepp also made an incriminating post on his own Facebook on September 15th: “Reading the news.. this person missing, that person missing, another person missing.. oh wait.. that person just went to beach with friend, other person found with her parole violation boyfriend. In the event I become missing, please note no one would take me… most likely if I am missing, its because my dumb ass did something on that tractor again and I am too stubborn to go to the doctor… I got 9 lives.. I aint done yet.”
A majority of serial killers are eventually diagnosed with one of the cluster B personality disorders, especially antisocial personality disorder. Those diagnosed with APD are unable to feel empathy for others and do not feel remorse for their actions.
After granting Kohlhepp's request to speak with his mother, Wright says he has been cooperative and wants to make things right. Wright told the Herald Journal that Kohlhepp is remorseful, and that they have been praying together.
His mother has spoken out about her time with her son. In an interview with 48 Hours, she said of the Superbike murders “Todd is not a monster. He’s not even close to it. He wasn’t doing it for enjoyment. He was doing it because he was mad and he was hurt.” She also stated that the reason for the killings was that he had wanted to be taught how to ride a motorcycle, but he had been embarrassed by the staff: “They sent him down a big field with plants this high and he fell off and they laughed and laughed at him.” She also claims they made jokes when he came in to purchase a second motorcycle after his first one was stolen. "You know,” she said, “this is all why people tell kids not to bully. This is what can happen." She said that he had cried while talking with her, “His eyes looked horrible. They were red.”
She also gave insight into what happened to Kala and Charlie. She told 48 Hours that Todd killed Charlie “because he got nasty and got smart-mouthed.” When asked why he chained up Kala she replied, “Because he didn’t know what to do at that point.” She says he told her “I didn’t know what to do with her. She didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t want to hurt her.”
Court records have been released from the 1986 rape and kidnapping. According to a psychological evaluation from 1987, Kohlhepp repeatedly asked himself “why do I do things like this?” He described his view of himself as “negative” and recognized himself as a “bad person” who "feels badly, because he feels that he can hurt people."
However, a probation officer stated, “When questioned how he thinks this offense has affected the victim, the defendant responded, ‘I have messed myself up too.’” According to records, he stated that he knew what he did was wrong, but also said he thought the girl was 16, not 14. The parents of the girl disputed that claim, saying that that he did know her age and that he “had no sense of reality.”
Another report from 1987 stated, “Behaviorally, he is demanding, self-centered and likely attempts to force others to do what he wants in order to meet his own needs.”
After the 1987 trial, his mother wrote a letter to the courts saying that the crime itself was wrong but that her son “is not a bad boy.” After pointing out that Kohlhepp had walked the girl home after the violent sexual assault, she asked the question “Does that sound like a dangerous criminal?” Kohlhepp will next appear in court on January 20, 2017.