WOODRUFF, S.C. — A man charged with kidnapping a 30-year-old South Carolina woman and keeping her chained in a storage shed was charged with four counts of murder Sunday in connection with a quadruple homicide that took place exactly 13 years ago.
Todd Kohlhepp, 45, of Moore, S.C., now is suspected in the deaths of as many as seven people, Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright said. Kohlhepp was charged Sunday in connection with the deaths of four people at a motorcycle shop in Chesnee, S.C., in 2003.
Kohlhepp was denied bond and his next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 19.
Kohlhepp is a real-estate agent who received his license 10 years ago from the South Carolina Real Estate Commission. He has been a registered sex offender since he was released from prison in 2001 after serving a 15-year kidnapping sentence for the abduction and rape of a 14-year-old neighbor in Tempe, Ariz., when he was 15.
Kohlhepp moved to South Carolina after his prison term, got a pilot's license, earned a degree at the University of South Carolina Upstate and began pursuing a real-estate career, lying on his application about the details of his 1987 conviction.
He owns a house in Moore, two BMW automobiles that police have confiscated, a motorcycle and a 95-acre property near Woodruff. Authorities have been scouring that property since Thursday when they discovered Kala Brown, 30, of Anderson, S.C., "chained like a dog" at the neck and ankles in a locked metal storage shed on the partially wooded site.
County coroner Rusty Clevenger identified the remains of her boyfriend of a few months, David Carver, 32, of Anderson, on Saturday, a day after a body was dug up on the property. Investigators took Kohlhepp to the scene Saturday and said he has confessed to both the murders of Carver and the four for whom he's been charged.
Brown told investigators that she had watched Kohlhepp shoot her boyfriend. Family and friends reported the pair missing in early September after Carver's mother, Joanne Shiflet of Starr, S.C., said they went to Woodruff to talk to Kohlhepp about clearing some of the property for him.
When Brown was found, she told investigators that as many as four people could be buried on Kohlhepp's property. He bought the property, considered agricultural land, in May 2014 for more than $305,000; he bought his two-story house in Moore, less than 10 miles north, for $137,500 in January 2007.
On Nov. 6, 2003, two years after Kohlhepp was released from prison, Scott Ponder, 30; his 52-year-old mother and part-time employee, Beverly Guy; and employees Brian Lucas, 29, and Chris Sherbert, 26, were found brutally slain at Superbike Motorsports, Wright said. The case was the county's first quadruple homicide.
Families of some of Kohlhepp’s alleged victims comforted each other Sunday as he stood before the Spartanburg County magistrate Jimmy Henson.
Dressed in an orange jumpsuit and acknowledging only the magistrate and law-enforcement officers, the short-haired, 5-foot-11, 300-pound man was told he could face the death penalty.
Kohlhepp quietly answered “yes sir” or “no sir” to Henson's questions. Asked if he wanted to make a statement to victims’ families, he said, “Not at this time, sir.
Terry Guy, the husband of Beverly Guy and stepfather of Scott Ponder, was among victim family members who attended Sunday’s bond hearing.
“When this first happened I got on my knees for 11 months and told God how much I hated him,” Guy said. “I lost 70 pounds, and I prayed every night, ‘Please don’t let me wake up in the morning.’ I kept waking up, so I came to a conclusion that I knew it wasn’t right for me to kill myself.
“My emotions are running from joy to crying… to even feeling sorry for the family that has to come down here and watch their son today. The only thing I don’t want anybody to misunderstand is the gentleman has to pay for it.”
Tom Lucas, the father of Brian Lucas, said he attended so he could see Kohlhepp’s face.
“He looked just like anybody else on the street, man,” Lucas said. “You think when you finally get there that there are these TV criminals and things like that, but this guy looks like everybody else. That scares me.”
Doris Henry, the sister of Beverly Guy, said she had no message for Kohlhepp just as he had no message for victims’ families.
“I just don’t know how anyone could take somebody else’s life,” she said.
Contributing: Frances K. Parrish and Kirk Brown, Anderson (S.C.) Independent-Mail; Anna Lee, Greenville (S.C.) News; John Bacon, USA TODAY.