Inside Todd Kohlhepp's Life And Crimes

This story discusses abuse, sexual assault, murder, and other crimes, including the involvement of a minor.

Following a tip received regarding sex crimes, police explored a 95-acre property in the South Carolina countryside (via NBC News). Inside a large storage container was a scene straight out of a banned horror movie. Investigators found alive a missing woman named Kala Brown. She was described as " ... chained up like a dog," reported Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright (via Greenville News). It was later discovered that Brown was familiar with her captor because he was her new employer, Todd Kohlhepp.

Kohlhepp was destined to spend the rest of his life behind bars. After finding Brown, a torrent of heinous and violent crimes allegedly committed by Kohlhepp were exposed, some over a decade old. The ensuing investigation turned up evidence and confessions of cold-blooded murders, abduction, and torture.

Todd Kohlhepp was found guilty of multiple murders in 2017. Looking at his history, Kohlhepp had also been a lot of other things: A pilot, entrepreneur, and real estate broker. Looking deeper into his past was a track record that indicates these more recent acts of violence did not materialize from thin air. In another life, Kohlhepp was imprisoned for the violent kidnapping and sexual assault of a 14-year-old when he was only 15.

The violent behavior in Kohlhepp's early life

Todd Kohlhepp was raised in South Carolina and Georgia and was a child of divorce and abuse (via Inquisitr). His early life was marked by a contentious relationship with his stepfather and a grandfather who beat him using a cattle prod. The violence he endured manifested itself in Kohlhepp. His aggression towards classmates and animals became so severe that he was placed in a Georgia mental health hospital for treatment around when he was just nine years old (via All That's Interesting). Later in life, he would be diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder.

After begging for years to live with his biological father, Kohlhepp moved to Arizona but the neglect towards him continued. According to a report by Greenville News, at 15, Kohlhepp's rage boiled over when he committed his first recorded crime. Incensed at a girl that often rebuffed him, he used his father's gun to force her into his home before he duct taped and raped her. He was convicted of kidnapping and sexual assault his victim and Kohlhepp began his prison sentence in 1987 (via ABC News).

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Kohlhepp's first time in prison

While most of Kohlhepp's rule violations in prison were categorized as "minor," larger infractions are detailed in a Department of Corrections' report as outlined by The Arizona Republic. He was involved in fights with inmates and didn't respect the guards. After three years, Kohlhepp attempted to have his sentence commuted. In a letter, Kohlhepp claimed to be rehabilitated. He wanted to " ... become a productive and responsible member of society." In a separate letter of support, a prison coordinator stated, "I am confident he will be a positive influence to his future, family and society upon release." However, Kohlhepp's request was denied.

After this, Kohlhepp caused more trouble. In a highly redacted section of his disciplinary records, Kohlhepp instigated a lockdown after he was missing during roll-call. He was seen making a run for it in the yard. In another incident, he attempted to obtain a prison shiv. Kohlhepp started "horse playing" with a fellow inmate who possessed a screwdriver. In the tussle, Kohlhepp made a move to steal it but was caught. Per The Arizona Republic, before the incident occurred, a fellow inmate claimed that they overheard Kohlhepp plotting to "stick someone."

After his adolescent years, Kohlhepp settled into his stay and avoided further disciplinary action. He went to school and obtained a bachelor's degree in computer science from Central Arizona College (via Greenville News). Only sophomoric motivations such as protesting the denial of his Maxim magazine subscription sparked his letter writing. After serving 14 years, Kohlhepp was released in 2001 (per the Arizona Department of Corrections). However, it seems that his incarceration wasn't enough to rehabilitate Kohlhepp.

A new life with new violence

After his release, Kohlhepp made strides in developing successful careers. He moved to South Carolina and obtained a job using a highly-padded resume (via All That's Interesting). In 2006, he lied on his paperwork to obtain a real estate license, omitting his enrollment with the South Carolina Sex Offenders Registry (via Greenville News). That same year, he became a private airplane pilot, licensed to fly family single-engine planes. In a report by Global News, Kohlhepp later claimed that the license allowed him the opportunity to commit other crimes.

In 2007, Kohlhepp graduated with a second degree in business from the University of South Carolina – Upstate and managed real estate sales in North and South Carolina (via the Associated Press). As an entrepreneur, he built a medium-sized real estate firm that he ran out of his Moore, S.C. home. Kohlhepp bought property, including a house and 95 acres of woodland.

But Kohlhepp didn't maintain a completely innocent facade. He earned a bad reputation at the local Waffle House as being a "creep" to the waitresses (via CBS News). One waitress and her husband were later murdered and found buried along with three other bodies on Kohlhepp's 95-acre woodland property.

When Kala Brown and her boyfriend, Charlie Carver, went missing, police scrambled to find the couple. After pinging the location of a cell phone, investigators were led to Kohlhepp's property in the fall of 2016 (per WYFF).

The murders of Todd Kohlhepp surface

Kala Brown gave police leads which led them to search Kohlhepp's property. Police now suspected that he was a serial killer (via Greenville News). They carefully combed the surrounding area, looking for the body of Carver. They were warned that open bear traps could be hidden under the fall leaves (via Greenville News). They pulled three murdered bodies from the ground of Kohlhepp's property.

In addition, four previous murders surfaced. Two years after his release from prison, Kohlhepp escalated his violence to murder. He attempted to return a motorcycle, was denied, and laughed out of the Superbike Motorsports shop. Kohlhepp returned later, killing the store's owner, Scott Ponder; his mother, Beverly Guy; and store employees, Brian Lucas and Chris Sherbert (per ABC 13 News).

After his crimes were discovered, it was likely that South Carolina would have given him the death penalty (via Greenville News). But state prosecutors reached a plea deal with Kohlhepp to avoid a lengthy trial that would have put strain on the victims' families. Kohlhepp pleaded guilty after admitting to multiple murders as well as other charges (via Greenville News). With his seven consecutive life sentences and no possibility of parole, Kohlhepp will not be released from prison this time.

Kohlhepp the imprisoner upset about his own imprisonment

Now serving his sentence at the Broad River Correctional Institute, Kohlhepp is getting reacquainted with the prison life he once knew (via NBC News). He has avoided infractions thus far but kicked up some dust by joining a lawsuit (via Greenville News).

Kohlhepp was in protective custody for unknown reasons, much to the protest of his victims' families. Along with 30 fellow inmates, Kohlhepp joined a lawsuit regarding the poor treatment of inmates in protective custody. The prison system places individuals in protective custody when it's in the best interest of their or the general population of the prison's safety. However, as the lawsuit claims, they miss out on basic rights such as access to medical care or opportunities to decrease their sentence. 

In 2018, the former real-estate agent changed addresses within prison walls. Kohlhepp is currently housed with the prison's general population and works as a wardkeeper's assistant.