US man who kept woman chained in container killed seven people

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 November, 2016, 4:09pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 November, 2016, 9:35pm

A South Carolina man killed at least seven people in a crime spree lasting more than a decade and was only uncovered when police rescued a woman chained at the neck in a storage container.

Todd Kohlhepp confessed to an unsolved 13-year-old massacre that stumped authorities, said Sheriff Chuck Wright.

Kohlhepp, 45, confessed to the deaths of the owner, service manager, mechanic and bookkeeper of Superbike Motorsports, a motorcycle shop in Chesnee, in Spartanburg County.

“If it wasn’t for [God] answering our prayers and Todd talking to us, I don’t know that we’d ever solve that case,” Wright said.

Wright says Kohlhepp showed officers where he buried two other people on his property near Woodruff, in addition to a body found at the site on Friday.

Wright and Coroner Rusty Clevenger identified that victim as 32-year-old Charles Carver, boyfriend of Kala Brown who was found on Thursday in a container.

Carver and Brown went missing around August 31. Their last known cellphone signals led authorities to the property. Carver died of multiple gunshot wounds.

The wife of one of the 2003 victims said police told her Kohlhepp was an angry customer who had been to the shop several times.

Melissa Ponder said she was resigned that her husband Scott’s death would never be solved before getting a phone call on Saturday evening from the police. “He knew too much about the crime scene,” Ponder said of Kohlhepp’s account to detectives.

The bike shop killings stunned locals, who suspected they were committed by a drug gang.

At 15, Kohlhepp was convicted of raping a 14-year-old neighbour at gunpoint and threatening to kill her siblings if she called the police. He was released ion 2001 and was registered as a sex offender.

Scott Waldrop, who lived next door to Kohlhepp, said he seemed like a Doomsday “prepper” but not “a threat”. When he saw the container, it was full of bottled water and canned goods.

Kohlhepp paid Waldrop to put no trespassing signs, cut trees for him and other odd jobs. Kohlhepp also installed cameras and put bear traps throughout.

Neighbour Ron Owen said Kohlhepp said he spent US$80,000 on his chain link fence.

“We didn’t see any signs whatsoever that this was going on,” Owen said. “My first reaction’s a baseball bat, but I know I’m not to take that in my own hands. God will deal with him.”

Additional reporting by Reuters