The case against an alleged South Carolina man accused last week of a kidnapping has quickly expanded into a multiple murder investigation.
Todd Kohlhepp, a 45-year-old realtor from near Spartanburg, now faces charges for the 2003 murders of four people killed at a motorcycle shop in Chesnee, South Carolina, according to court records. Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright said Kohlhepp confessed to the killings after being charged with the brutal kidnapping of a woman found on his farm.
Following a court appearance for the murder charges this weekend, Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Kevin Bobo told CNN that yet another body was found on Kohlhepp’s property.
In total, Wright said Kohlhepp may be connected to at least seven homicides.
‘Get me out of here!’
It all started last week when prosecutors charged Kohlhepp with the kidnapping of a woman named Kala Brown. On Thursday, authorities found the 30-year-old woman inside a dark shipping container on Kohlhepp’s 95-acre farm just outside Spartanburg. She was “chained like a dog” by her neck and ankle, only given food and water twice a day, Wright said.
“Help me! Get me out of here!” Brown said, according to Wright, who talked with Ashleigh Banfield of HLN’s “Primetime Justice.”
At a bail hearing Friday, a solicitor told the judge that Brown claimed to have seen Kohlhepp shoot her boyfriend, 32-year-old Charles Carver. That same day authorities discovered Carver’s body on the farm. Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger found multiple shooting wounds in the upper part of his body.
“We talked with the family and they’re obviously heartbroken,” Wright said over the weekend.
The couple first went missing on August 31. According to authorities, Brown and Kohlhepp knew each previously. A social media post indicated she had planned to meet him at the farm the day the couple disappeared.
Brown also told investigators that she believed several more people had been killed on the property.
Kidnapping cracks open cold cases
Once authorities took Kohlhepp into custody, they learned new details about additional killings that had previously been unsolved.
Kohlhepp has told detectives details only the killer would have known about the homicides at Superbike Motorsports in Chesnee, South Carolina, according to authorities.
The motorcycle shop, near the North Carolina border, is located more than 30 miles away from Kohlhepp’s farm.
The victims — business owner Scott Ponder, his mother Beverly Guy, service manager Brian Lucas and employee Chris Sherbert — were found fatally shot inside the shop on November 6, 2003, CNN-affiliate WYFF News 4 reported.
Ponder’s widow, Melissa Ponder, told WYFF: “I’m sad, relieved, in shock.”
More bodies, more charges?
Kohlhepp, a registered sex offender who previously spent 15 years behind bars for kidnapping, did not enter a plea at his kidnapping hearing on Friday after appearing without an attorney. The judge sent the bail matter to a circuit court.
Over the weekend, prosecutors charged Kohlhepp with four counts of murder, according to Spartanburg County, South Carolina, court records.
Soon after, though, another body was found on his farm, according to Bobo.
It remains unclear whether Kohlhepp will be indicted on additional charges.