Spartanburg County, SC (The Greenville News, WLTX) - A body has been found at the property where a woman was chained and held captive for nearly two months inside a container.
The Spartanburg Herald-Journal and Fox Carolina both report that the coroner said the body was discovered Friday. The coroner's office is still on the scene investigating.
The owner of the nearly 100 acres near Woodruff has been charged with kidnapping. Todd Christopher Kohlhepp, 45, of 213 Windsong Way, is being held at the Spartanburg County Detention Center without bond, according to a warrant and jail records.
Kohlhepp is scheduled for an initial hearing at 2 p.m. at Spartanburg County Jail, according to Murray Glenn, 7th Judicial Circuit solicitor’s office spokesman.
The woman found in the container is “alive and well,” recuperating at a local hospital after telling investigators four people could be buried on the rural, fenced land of nearly 100 acres. Her boyfriend, Charles Carver, 32, is missing, and Wright said he fears other missing persons could be found dead on the site.
Meanwhile at the property near Woodruff, heavy equipment was moving into place after cadaver dogs alerted investigators to “some places” on the property.
“We don’t know what they alerted on until we get our equipment in here. We just don’t know yet,” said Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright.
As daylight broke over the countryside north of Woodruff Friday morning, investigators gathered at the scene and prayed before renewing their search of the property where the woman was found “chained up like a dog” inside a metal container less than 24 hours earlier.
SLED spokesman Thom Berry said at least four SLED agents are assisting with the crime scene, other resources will be made available upon request.
Michael Foster, an assistant pastor at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Spartanburg, rented a home in Moore from Kohlhepp. He moved in with his wife and five children in late August, and he believes his was one of the last homes Brown cleaned before being abducted.
He said he thought it was strange that Kohlhepp neglected to check references or credit as his family moved in.
“He is a creepy dude,” Foster said. “Creepy is sort of the wrong word. He’s just someone who makes everything about himself, someone that just talks a lot about money and a lot about how many people work for him. He kept telling me he had this girlfriend that was hard to please. He said it twice, and he mentioned that he spent the weekends out on the lake in Anderson.
“I always sensed when I was around him that I needed to stay close to him. He was someone that you needed to manage his presence around you so you don’t get managed. He always made me feel uncomfortable.”
War veteran and former Mauldin city police officer Ray Reid, 70, a Greer resident who retired in 2008 after 17 years in law enforcement, is among volunteers who’ve arrived to offer help to investigators.
“That’s what kind of people we live with here in the South, and that’s why I love it here,” Wright said. “If you know something that we haven’t touched on, please call our investigators, call Crime Stoppers, dial 911 – whatever. That one piece of information you might not think is relevant might be the key, so please help us as much as you can.”
Kohlhepp's neighbors were shocked by the news.
“We don’t know what goes on inside (closed) doors,” said his next-door neighbor Maurene Owen. “It makes life such a scary place when you think of it like that.”
The woman who was recovered worked for Kohlhepp, cleaning houses before he offered them for sale or rent, according to her friend Leah Miller.
Kohlhepp was taken into custody on the Wofford Road property Thursday while investigators were executing a search warrant as part of a joint missing-persons investigation with Anderson police. The 45-year-old pilot and real-estate broker owns the property and lives about nine miles away in Moore. He also is a registered sex offender for a kidnapping incident that happened when he was a teenager, according to records.
Kohlhepp gave the following account of the kidnapping incident in Arizona when he applied for his real estate licence in 2006.
Kohlhepp wrote that he had a heated argument with his girlfriend, they were both 15 at the time, they broke up and afterward chased his dog and returned to his house.
Police showed up at the home, after having been called by his girlfriend's parents, who were concerned they could not reach her by phone, Kohlhepp wrote.
He said the kidnapping charge stemmed from a firearm he was carrying and because "I had told her not to move while we talked this out."
Kohlhepp said he had been carrying a gun because he was concerned about crime in the Pheonix area.
Kohlhepp said he served a 15 year sentence, getting a GED and an associates degree in computer science while incarcerated.
He said his actions after the day of the argument, Nov. 24, 1986, show that he would be an example as a law-abiding real estate agent and would follow guidelines.
Kohlhepp's application to take the real estate exam was granted and he was licensed on June 30, 2006, about three weeks after he applied.
He was approved at a time when real estate agents gave self-disclosure about crimes, in May 2015 the state began requiring background checks for new applications, said Lesia Kudelka of the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.