Thirty year old Kala Brown set off to do some work at a client’s property on the 31st of August 2016.
Although her boyfriend, Charlie Carver, had work of his own to do that day, the client, a real estate agent named Todd Kohlhepp, insisted that only Carver accompany her if she wanted to bring along help. Kala and her boyfriend picked up a set of keys from Kohlhepp’s home and then followed him to the property.
(Kala and Charlie. Source)
Usually Kohlhepp would provide an address that Kala would tap into her vehicle's GPS, but this time Kohlhepp would personally lead her out onto his isolated 100 acre property.
They pulled up to large fence that had cost Kohlhepp $80,000 to construct. The structure stood tall around the perimeter of his land, cutting it off from the outside world. The three drove through the open gate, Kohlhepp then stepped out his vehicle and ominously locked the gate behind them. Brown would later admit that she thought nothing of it at the time. She and Kohlhepp had been mutual Facebook friends for several years but had no real life connection. He had messaged her in response to a post that she had made asking her followers to suggest ways she could earn extra money. Todd Kohlhepp was the owner of TKA real estate and he made her a proposition; he wanted her to clean the houses that he was selling though his firm. Kala agreed and went on to clean several houses without any problems. There had been no previous issues or feelings of unease according to Brown and she would later describe Todd Kohlhepp as being laid back and professional during their first few encounters.
It was a warm day in South Carolina. A dirt path lead Charlie Carver and Kala Brown out of sight of the main road and up to a garage and small shed nestled in a thick patch of trees. Kohlhepp would hand the two a bottle of water each and the tools necessary to cut down some of the thick brush where he wanted to make some trail ways. Before Carver could even step out of the garage he was shot three times in the chest. He would die on the property and nobody would hear from Kala again for over two months.
(The shed. Source)
When friends could not make contact with Kala Brown, they contacted her parents who showed up to the couple’s apartment to discover the door unlocked and their pet dog, Romeo, alone without food and water. Nothing had been taken that would indicate the two had left the residence voluntarily. It was at this point that Kala’s mother became worried.
(Missing poster. Source)
The absent couple was officially reported missing after Kala’s mother made some phone calls to her daughter’s friends; none of whom had any idea where she was as they too could not get into contact with her. Around the same time someone was updating Charlie Carver's Facebook profile, posting out of character updates and changing his relationship status to “married”. Nobody believed that it was him and assumed it was a sick joke. Little did they know that the suspicious activity was being posted by Carver’s killer.
Kohlhepp was also posting on his own Facebook profile which has since been taken down. Heavy.com posted an article including a status update that the serial killer made while Kala was chained up on his land; a post on the subject of missing people.
Although now officially missing, Kala was still very much alive. Tragically she had seen her boyfriend get murdered right before her eyes and unbeknownst to her, this was not Todd Kohlhepp's first kill. The man had acted so calmly as he grabbed her by the arm and dragged her off that somewhere inside she already knew this was not the first time he had done something like this. It was all a blur as she was dragged back into the garage, gagged and then cuffed at both the wrists and ankles. He left her there as he went outside and wrapped Carver’s body up in tarp. He would later bury the body in a shallow grave on his property along with the undiscovered remains of two other victims. The ordeal was without a doubt premeditated. Kala would later explain in interviews that Kohlhepp was well prepared. She said that he shot her boyfriend in front of her because he said it would make her “easier to control” and that he also claimed Stockholm syndrome would eventually kick in. It was at this point she said she knew that he didn’t want to kill her, he wanted to keep her. In future conversations with her captor she would come to understand that he planned to keep her until the end of his days.
A heavy collar was clasped around her neck and she was chained inside of a 30 foot green shipping container in total darkness.
(The container. Source)
Each day was a routine that he had constructed for his victim, which went something like this:
-She would be fed one meal per day
-She would be taken out of the container twice per day for up to three quarters of an hour at a time
-She would be raped twice a day
-She would be allowed to bathe with a small jug of water and towel every two days
(Meagan and Johnny. Source)
His previous victims included another couple, a husband and wife in their twenties by the names of Meagan Leigh McCraw-Coxie and Johnny Joe Coxie. The two had also been reported missing late December of 2015, but had tragically been murdered by Kohlhepp and buried on the property. They left behind a child who is now in the care of his grandmother.
It is possible that Kohlhepp attempted to make Megan McCraw-Coxie his slave, but it didn’t work out. Kala certainly seems to think so, and she believes it was her compliance and the belief that she would eventually be located that kept her alive.
She was found by investigators who were working on the couples missing case. They had managed to locate her whereabouts via her last cell phone pings and realized that she was in the shipping container when they heard noise coming from inside. Kala had heard them searching around and began to hit at the walls to alert their attention.
Over a decade earlier in 2003, Kohlhepp had shot and killed four men in a motorcycle shop after they refused his request to return a motorcycle he had purchased earlier. The men had apparently mocked him, so he later returned to take them out before taking off.
Dig deeper into Kohlhepp’s past and the twisted crime may not appear as unexpected as it seems. The serial killer had a history of convictions and behavioral problems that would hint towards future acts of crime and violence. Those who came into contact with him did not have nice things to say, and waitresses at the restaurant he frequented stopped serving him altogether after his relentless attempts to lure them to his 100 acre property. In hindsight it’s clear to see that having some kind of long term slave was something he had been planning and attempting to execute for a while.
Unsurprisingly, Todd Kohlhepp’s tendency to commit his dark deeds began much earlier than 2003. He had had various problems since childhood, and had apparently started off harming and killing animals when he was just a boy. He is described as being a very angry person and was generally aggressive to other kids landing him 3 months in a psychiatric hospital in his younger years. His unhealthy obsession with sex followed him into adulthood and co-workers would describe the way he would watch pornography videos while at work.
Shockingly he committed his first kidnapping and rape at the young age of 15, when he abducted a neighborhood girl a year younger than him. He released her only after threatening to murder her family if she told anyone. He was imprisoned for his crime, which kept him off the streets between 1987 – 2001. His name was also put on the sex offender’s register; a move that should have protected those around him, but was not checked out when he successfully applied for the real estate license that would lead his future victims’ right to him. Despite his issues, he displayed intelligence, and although he generally made those around him feel uncomfortable, he’d keep it under wraps in the face of potential victims in order to lure them in to a false sense of security.
His LinkedIn profile is still up, and reveals details regarding his education, work history and pilot's license.
Over a period of 13 years Todd Kohlhepp murdered 7 people.
He was sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences on the 26th of May 2017.