Todd Kohlhepp is one of America’s newest serial killers. He was caught in November 2016 after being undiscovered for thirteen years in the American South. The following is an in-depth look of the case and the man himself starting with the disappearance of Kala Brown and Charles David Carver in the fall of 2016.
On September 6, 2016 local 7 News WSPA in Anderson, South Carolina reported on the story of a missing adult couple where the mothers of both 30-year-old Kala Victoria Brown and 32-year-old Charles David Carver had reported not being able to get in contact with either of their children. The best friend of Kala Victoria Brown’s mother, Bobbie Newsom, who initiated the call to the police, said that Newsom considered her daughter missing and the last contact Newsom had with Brown was on August 31st.
Carver’s mother had stated that she had not heard from her son since August 29th and that she also could not get in touch with Brown. Carver’s mother also reported that Carver’s job had not seen him in a few days and that the apartment manager at their complex had looked through their apartment, but stated that it appeared no one had been there in a while. Necessary personal items were left behind which indicated the pair was not on a planned trip. Their clothes, prescription medicine, Brown’s contact lenses and glasses, and even Brown’s pet Pomeranian, who was left without access to food and water, were left behind at their apartment.
Additionally, Brown’s vehicle was there, but police were looking for Carver’s car which was a 2002 White Pontiac Grand Prix, SC Tag HWY 224 that had an LSU decal in the back windshield. The police were further advised at the time that Carver’s soon to be ex-wife had given the couple problems before. Police dispatch also attempted to ping Brown’s phone, which is a technique when a signal is sent to a cell phone to have it respond with requested data that typically pertained to its location. However, after inquiring to Brown’s cell phone carrier, police were notified that there had not been activity in the last 48 hours and uncovered that the last images of Carver’s whereabouts were of Carver leaving his workplace on August 31st via a security camera.
About a month into the investigation, family and friends of Carver noticed mysterious activity on his Facebook page. Someone else was posting as Carver, but activity did not seem to match up with what Carver would normally post. First, the mysterious person made milestones, claiming that Carver and Brown were expecting a daughter on July 1st, then on August 1st they had bought a house, and on September 1st the two were married. But, these milestones were logged retroactively on October 1st.
Then strange memes started being posted to Carver’s Facebook page reading “I wonder if I said hello, how many people would say it back? Let’s try it. Hello!” (Posted on September 24) “What color ribbon supports the cure for people who can’t keep their nose out of other people’s business?” (October 2) and the most sinister post, also on September 24, “Sometimes late at night I dig a hole in the backyard to keep the nosey neighbor’s guessing” This post got the most response from Carver’s friends and family as they posted “Is this what you did to Kala & The real Charlie???” “Psychopath” and “Are you hinting at what you did with them? You know it’s sad that someone like you is using his Facebook page, when his family and friends are worried about both him and Kala.”
The mysterious user also started sharing and liking the missing pages set up by the couple’s family and a GoFundMe account from Brown’s family to help them pay for a private investigator. Friends and family of Carver also noted that there were habitual grammar mistakes throughout the posts and fingers started pointing at Carver’s estranged wife, Nichole Ellen Nunes Carver, because she made similar mistakes in her posts. The user would sometimes say “my hubby” and liked some posts from Nunes’ account, so that did not help the accusations.
On October 13th, 2016, a Facebook group named Help Find Charlie “David” Carver & Kala Brown was created to continue the search for the missing pair. At this point they had been missing for about 44 days and the group took off after the bizarre posts popped up on Carver’s account. Friends and family of Brown and Carver were starting to lose hope that they would ever see their loved ones again.
On November 3rd, 2016 while acting on a tip and the information that both Brown and Carver’s phones had pinged to the property of Todd Christopher Kohlhepp, police arrived at a rural property outside of Woodruff, South Carolina. While searching the 100-acre land the police heard loud banging coming from a metal storage container on the property, opening it to find Brown.
She was alive, but chained to the wall by her neck, had restraints on her ankles, and was sitting on a mattress. The container was measured 30 by 15 feet which sat in the middle of the property next to a two-car garage. Brown immediately told officers that Kohlhepp shot Carver three times in the chest, wrapped him in blue tarp, put him in the back of a tractor, and locked her in the shipping container. She also informed police that there were several bodies dead and buried on the grounds and that Kohlhepp said if dogs were looking they wouldn’t be able to locate the remains since there’s red pepper near the sites.
When Carver and Brown had arrived at the home of Todd Christopher Kohlhepp on August 31th. Kohlhepp, a 45-year-old licensed real estate agent and pilot, who immediately pulled out a gun and held them hostage when they arrived to clean. Their presence on the property was not unusual since Brown and Carver had cleaned for Kohlhepp before, but usually real estate listings that he was getting ready. Kohlhepp did not put up a fight when he was arrested after the discovery of Brown chained up, but then cadaver dogs indicated that human remains may be on the property which corroborated Brown’s statements. Carver’s body was later found in a shallow grave and his car dumped into a ravine on Kohlhepp’s property. While this was a horrific discovery, who was this Todd Kohlhepp?
Early Life of Todd Kohlhepp
Born on March 7th, 1971 to Regina and William Sampsell, Kohlhepp had a troubled childhood that started after his parents divorced when he was two. His mother remarried a year later to his stepfather, last name Kohlhepp, who legally adopted him at age five and they settled in South Carolina. However, the Kohlhepp family dynamic was a dysfunctional one as Kohlhepp and his stepfather never got along and Kohlhepp’s mother and stepfather had many marital issues that resulted in the pair divorcing and remarrying twice.
As a child Todd Kohlhepp showed antisocial behaviors that would often turn aggressive. Reportedly in nursery school (pre-k?) he would destroy other children’s projects or hit them and was dismissed twice from the Boy Scouts for disruptive behavior. Evidentiary documents also showed incidents where he continued to hit other children, shot a dog with a BB gun, and put a goldfish in bleach because he wanted a gerbil instead. In 1980, at the age of nine, he was admitted to the Georgia Mental Health Institute because of his behavior.
While there, his therapist noted that Todd Kohlhepp was open about his hatred of his stepfather, as well as his fixation on sexual content. In 1982 after his mother and stepfather separated, Kohlhepp spent a summer with his birth father, William Sampsell, who he really had no relationship with. However, when he came back he destroyed his bedroom with a hammer and threatened to kill his mother if she didn’t let him go live with Sampsell.
Later that year, in October 1982, the Spartanburg School District recommended an evaluation of the 12-year-old as he frequently disrupted class, was angered easily, defiant, and detested criticism. Kohlhepp was evaluated between December 1982 and May 1983 and afterwards his mother let him move to Arizona to be with his father. Following the big move, Todd Kohlhepp said that he and his father couldn’t tolerate each other which led Sampsell to be physically and verbally abusive. Yet, Sampsell recounted that the only emotion Kohlhepp seemed to be capable of was anger. He emphasized this by naming examples where he had to scold Kohlhepp for bullying other children or when Kohlhepp would get easily frustrated at building models and destroy them.
Kidnapping of 1986: Kohlhepp’s first major crime
On November 25th, 1986 Kohlhepp pointed a gun at a fourteen-year-old girl in Arizona and forced her to walk to his home. He then bound her hands, placed duct tape over her mouth and raped her. He walked her home after the crime and told her that he would kill her younger siblings if she told anyone what happened. Although Kohlhepp was only 15 at the time he was charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, and committing a dangerous crime against children. In 1987, he pled guilty to the kidnaping charge so that the other charges would be dropped, but he would have to serve 15 years in prison and register as a sex offender for life.
During this investigation Kohlhepp was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and was found to have an above average IQ.Â These findings were corroborated by court documents where the judge noted that Kohlhepp was very bright, but his behavior was so irreconcilable that it could not likely be rehabilitated.
His probation officer also noted that Kohlhepp felt like the world owed him something and another court official said that he was an “extremely cold and somewhat callous young man, who has no comprehension whatsoever of the devastating effects of his own violent and aggressive behavior.” However, even during his imprisonment Kohlhepp could not stay out of trouble and had numerous records of disobedience while incarcerated until he was twenty years old.
Life after prison up until the discovery of Kala Brown
In August 2001, Kohlhepp was released from prison and moved back to Spartanburg, South Carolina with his mother. He registered as a sex offender in November 30 of the same year in South Carolina and lived with his mother while working several different jobs before he got his real estate license in June of 2006. He then bought his home and operated TKA Real Estate, Todd Kohlhepp & Associates, until his arrest.
Todd Kohlhepp was known as a private and pleasant person by his neighbors and as a fair and excellent boss by those who worked for him. One employee reportedly knew that Kohlhepp was a sex offender, but wasn’t bothered since he told people that his charges were trumped up after he had gone joyriding with a girl and upset her father who was an official in the town he lived in.
Aftermath of Investigation
The day after the discovery of Brown on his property, Kohlhepp was taken back to his home and he showed investigators more gravesites that held the bodies of Megan McGraw-Coxie and Johnny Coxie, a couple who had been missing for almost a year. Kohlhepp had murdered both after he lured them to his property to do similar work to what Brown and Carver had come to do on August 30.
Todd Kohlhepp admitted to shooting Coxie in the chest, but then decided to handcuff and lock McCraw-Coxie in the metal storage container in a similar manner to how Brown was held captive. Kohlhepp recounted that he fed her, but since McCraw-Coxie tried to burn things inside the container he shot and buried her just like her husband.
However, another twist in the case came when Kohlhepp admitted to the November 2003 quadruple homicide at Superbike Motorsports where Brian Lucas (the shop’s foreman), Scott Ponder (the owner), Beverly Guy (Ponder’s mother), and Chris Sherbert ( the mechanic) had all been gunned down in the shop.
In an interview with Kohlhepp’s mother, now Regina Tague, she said that her son told her that he shot the four because they had embarrassed him when he asked for help to learn how to ride a motorcycle. Evidently, he fell off a motorcycle and the staff laughed at him and refused to give his money back. So, he came back with a gun and murdered them in cold blood. He also admitted to his mother that he killed Carver because of his “smart mouth.”
Todd Kohlhepp pled guilty to 14 charges on May 26th, 2017 making a deal to avoid the death penalty, but he still received seven consecutive life sentences. Kohlhepp also faces a lawsuit from the family of those that he killed in the Superbike Motorsports store.