SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Fifteen years have gone by since four people were slain inside a Spartanburg County motorcycle shop.
On Friday, family members of the victims sat face-to-face with their loved ones' killer.
Serial killer Todd Kohlhepp was inside a Spartanburg County courtroom Friday during a damages hearing for a civil case from the quadruple homicide at Superbike Motorsports on Nov. 6, 2003. The families of the victims filed a wrongful death suit against Kohlhepp following his arrest and conviction.
"I’m not afraid to stare him down. He took my son’s life and the life of three other people for whatever stupidity," Lorraine Lucas, who son Brian Lucas was one of four victims in the Superbike case, told The Greenville News after the hearing. "He gave me eye contact. I’m sure my eyes said everything that was in my heart."
Circuit Court Judge Mark Hayes heard remarks from the family members and their attorney and agreed to take the matter under advisement to determine an amount of damages to be awarded at a later date.
Kohlhepp's arrest came when Kala Brown, a missing woman from Anderson, was found chained up on Kohlhepp's expansive Woodruff property. The discovery put Kohlhepp in custody and a series of closed cases followed as he racked up seven murder charges.
Brown was found Nov. 3, 2016 amid a 96-acre property off Wofford Road in Woodruff. She has been missing for two months with her boyfriend Charlie David Carver. After her rescue, investigators found Carver's body buried in a shallow grave. Also there were the bodies of Spartanburg County Johnny Coxie and Meagan McCraw Coxie.
During later interviews with investigators, Kohlhepp said he had bought the Woodruff property to turn into his dream home and not his "killing field." He also confessed to being the sold shooter responsible for the four murders at Superbike Motorsports off Parris Bridge Road. There, law enforcement found the bodies of Scott Ponder, Brian Lucas, Beverly Guy and Chris Sherbert.
Ponder was the owner, Guy was the bookkeeper, Lucas was the shop manager and Sherbert was a mechanic.
Kohlhepp, a former businessman and real estate agent in the Upstate, was convicted of the seven known murders along with kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct.
He is now serving out life in prison.
"No amount of money, no amount of time would ever heal it or ever make it go away," Brian Lucas' father, Tom Lucas, said. "Many people will tell you, I’m very glad you got closure, there’s no such thing as closure. We have some answers, we have some information, but the pure heartache will never go away."
After his initial arrest and confession to the Superbike murders, several of the victims' family members arrived at the Spartanburg County jail where Kohlhepp appeared before a magistrate. Lorraine Lucas, the mother of Brian Lucas, had remarked then that the hearing fell on the 13-year anniversary of the killings, ending an exhaustive fight to get the case solved.
She said Friday that she feels like her life has entered a new chapter now that the damages hearing in her civil case has ended.
Melissa Brackman, the widow of Ponder, lives in Arizona and was not able to attend Friday's hearing so a subsequent hearing will be held for her claims. Lorraine Lucas plans to be back in court to support Brackman then, she said.
"I did not want to go to my grave not knowing who or why. Nothing or anyone can steal the love or memories I hold in my heart," Lorraine Lucas said.
Kohlhepp remained mostly quiet during the Friday hearing. He wore white New Balance shoes, an orange jumpsuit and a tan state Department of Corrections coat. He gazed over at the sitting family members as he walked into the courtroom before he sat down.
He explained to Hayes, the judge, that he has had inadequate representation since his arrest. He represented himself Friday and sat alone at the defendant's table with only one law enforcement officer behind him.
Lorraine Lucas, in her testimony, spoke of the love of her son and the many ways in which her life was torn to pieces following the murders. She looked Kohlhepp straight in the eyes during parts of her remarks and stared at him as she walked back her to seat.
She referenced that Kohlhepp's motive in the killing dealt with him buying a motorcycle from the shop but was not able to ride it property and becoming frustrated. She said her son would have been happy to show Kohlhepp how to ride.
Kohlhepp also spoke after Lorraine Lucas made remarks.
"I’m sorry but your information is incorrect," he said before Hayes, the judge, reiterated that his opportunity to speak was only if he had a question for Lorraine Lucas. "I want to let her know why it happened."
Terry Guy, the widow of Beverly Guy, said in court that the last 15 years has been filled with depression but that God has helped him carry on.
"Life has been a total hell not knowing one minute to the next what disaster life has around next corner," he said. "The worst can happen at snap of finger."
He said if Beverly Guy was still alive, she would forgive Kohlhepp.
Civil lawsuits trickled in following Kohlhepp's arrest and subsequent conviction in May 2017.
Brown filed a personal injury suit. Cindy Coxie, the mother of Johnny Coxie, filed a wrongful death suit. The Superbike Motorsports families filed a wrongful death suit. Charles Carver, Charlie David Carver's father, filed a wrongful death suit. Additional lawsuits were filed from those whom Kohlhepp owed money to including a fencing company, the former property owners of the Woodruff property and a former tenant in one of his rental properties.
In Brown's damages hearing in July, a Spartanburg County judge awarded Brown $6.3 million. She had originally sought $360 million in damages for medical expenses and ongoing pain, suffering and mental anguish.
Though the ordered awards are in the millions, the amount of money each of the plaintiffs will actually see could be different. Attorneys have said it won't be until after all of Kohlhepp's assets are liquidated that final amounts will be determined.
Attorney Chris Kennedy, who represents the families in the Superbike case, said that's why he did not request a specific dollar amount to the judge.
Kohlhepp declined to speak during Brown's damages hearing earlier this year. He did take the stand for the damages hearing with Cindy Coxie, which was held on the same day as Brown's hearing. Kohlhepp took the opportunity to state that Johnny Coxie's homicide was self-defense as a result of Johnny Coxie attacking him first. His statement didn't carry any legal weight though since the ability to speak at the hearing was only to remark on the amount of damages sought for the judge to consider.
After that hearing, Cindy Coxie defended her son and cautioned the public not to believe anything said by a serial killer.
The ability for family members to read statements in front of Kohlhepp has helped some of them to heal.
"It felt good. It was hard preparing. It was hard preparing for it but I woke up determined. My strength, I guess I’ve gotten stronger through this whole process," Lorraine Lucas said.
Katie Lucas, the brother of Brian Lucas, also gave remarks and told the court she never wants to hear Kohlhepp's name again.
"We hear that name or see that picture and it strikes a knife through our heart," Katie Lucas said. "This coward does not deserve to have one more moment in the public eye. He deserves to be forgotten by the public."