On November 3, 2016, police were on the hunt for a missing couple when they found 30 year old Kala Brown chained inside the wall of a metal shipping container on a South Carolina property. Several months earlier, her boyfriend Charles Carver had been shot & killed. Police soon found 2 additional bodies on the property. The property belonged to 45-year-old real estate agent, Todd Kohlhepp.
Todd Kohlhepp is an American serial killer who was convicted of killing 7 people in South Carolina between 2003-2016. Todd was born Todd Christopher Sampsell on March 7, 1971 in Ft Lauderdale, Florida though was raised in SC & Georgia. By age 2, after his parents divorced, he lived solely with his mother. The following year, his mother had married another man who Todd was adopted by & his name was changed to Todd Kohlhepp. Later reports showed that Todd had an unhealthy relationship with his stepfather & he had wanted to live with his biological father who he had not seen in 8 years.
Todd was known to be a troubled child. He showed aggressive behavior as early as nursery school, destroying other kids’ property. Todd didn’t see his schoolmates as potential friends, he saw them as competitors. He started counseling at age 9 & was considered to be “explosive” & show a preoccupation with sexual content. He had also been cruel to animals, shooting a dog with a BB gun & killing a goldfish with bleach. He spent 3.5 months in a Georgia psychiatric hospital as an inpatient because of his inability to get along with other kids.
In 1983 at age 12, Todd was sent to live with his biological father in Arizona after his mother & stepfather separated. They had apparently divorced & remarried several times during Todd’s life. Todd worked various local jobs & began showing interest in his father’s hobby of collecting weapons. His father taught him to “blow things up and make bombs.” Despite this bond over explosives & weapons, their relationship deteriorated because his dad was preoccupied with the ladies. Todd’s father would later say that the only emotion his son was capable of was anger. Todd then wanted to move back with his mother.
On November 25, 1986, at age 15, Todd kidnapped a 14 year old neighbor girl in Tempe, AZ. He apprehended her with a .22 caliber revolver, brought her back to his father’s house, tied her up & duct taped her mouth shut & raped her. After, he walked her home & threatened to kill her younger siblings & family if she told anyone. The girl’s five year old brother was concerned he couldn’t find his sister so he called the police. As he was on the phone, his sister returned home, got on the phone & told the officers what had happened. Todd was charged with kidnapping, sexual assault & comitting a dangerous crime against children. In 1987, at age 16, he pled guilty to only the kidnapping charge & the other charges were dropped. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison & registered as a sex offender. Court records showed that he was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder & had an above average IQ of 118.
The judge considered him to be very bright & should have been academically advanced though was instead behaviorally & emotionally dangerous & rehab would likely be unhelpful. Todd’s probation officer felt the same & felt that Todd believed that “the world owed him something.” Todd’s attorney in the case later went on to say that he didn’t feel his client would go on to harm others in the future. Um, what?! During his time in prison he had been cited for violent behavior though after turning 20, there were no other issues during his imprisonment.
After spending nearly half his life in prison, at age 30, on November 24, 2001, Todd was released after serving 14 years & moved to South Carolina to be near his mom. During his time in prison he had earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Central Arizona College. From January 2002-November 2003, he worked as a graphic designer for a company in Spartanburg, SC. In 2003 he began studying at Greenville Technical College & the following year, transferred to University of South Carolina Upstate & graduated in 2008 with a BS in business administration-marketing.
Downplaying his felony charge on his application, he was able to get a real estate license on June 30, 2006, saying his status as a sex offender was a misunderstanding with his girlfriend. He built a firm, employing a dozen agents & was recognized as a top-selling agent in the Carolina region. He also got his private pilot license & purchased several properties out of state. In May of 2014, he purchased 95 acres of land in Woodruff, SC installing a fence that alone cost $80k. On the outside, he looked like a model citizen. He was an avid collector of firearms, he loved fast cars; things that made him feel powerful.
A customer who sold her home to Todd described him as very outgoing & professional though often spoke of his firearms & casually used sexual innuendos during conversations. Another woman who had assisted one of Todd’s employees described him as angry & condescending toward her partner. A banker who worked with Todd said he often watched porno movies, even while at work.
On November 6, 2003, a customer found 4 people shot dead inside Superbike Motorsports, a motorcycle shop in Chesnee. The business was family owned & victims included: Owner, 30 year old Scott Ponder, 30 year old service manager Brian Lucas, 26 year old mechanic Chris Sherbert & 52 year old bookkeeper Beverly Guy who was Scott Ponder’s mother. Scott’s wife Melissa had moved to SC from AZ to be with her husband & were married in January 2002. Scott had always been into motorcycles & was basically destined to open his shop. Melissa described him as gentle with the ability to make people feel comfortable. The couple just found out that Melissa was pregnant with their first child. On November 4th, two days before the shooting, Melissa had an OBGYN appointment. She went to the appointment alone but Scott ended up surprising her & was able to hear their baby’s heartbeat. The two were so excited for what was to come with pregnancy & starting a family.
On November 6th, the morning of the attack, all seemed fine. Scott headed to work as Melissa got ready for her own job. She recalls passing the motorcycle shop on her way into work and honking at Scott as he stood on the side of the building. Scott waved & blew her a kiss. This would be the last time Melissa saw her husband alive. At around 3pm Melissa got a call from a concerned friend who had heard about a shooting at the bike shop. She immediately raced to the shop & found 10-12 police cars with lights on, blocking off the road. She was brought home by police & anxiously waited for news about the crime scene. She remembers standing at her glass front doors as the coroner drove up. Two coroners entered the house, asked Melissa to have a seat & told her the devastating news.
The cause of death for all four was gunshot wounds. Investigators believed that the gunman entered the shop from the back & killed Sherbert as he worked. Then moved to the middle showroom where he killed Beverly Guy & Lucas in the main doorway & Ponder in the parking lot. Seven months later, Melissa gave birth to their son who she named Scott Jr. Melissa makes sure that her son hears many stories of his father, celebrating his life & birthdays each year. No suspects had been identified, there were no witnesses & the case became cold. However, in 2004, the police called Melissa down to the station where they told her that they had taken DNA from her 6 month old baby’s diaper which didn’t match Scott’s DNA. She was now considered a suspect. She was absolutely stunned by these accusations & wanted Scott’s body exhumed for new DNA samples. It took a month until Melissa received a call back & was told that Scott & Brian Lucas’s blood vials had been mislabeled. All of the tragedy & heartache caused Melissa to move back to her hometown of AZ when Scott Jr was one.
On December 22, 2015, 29 year old Johnny Coxie & his 25 year old Wife Meagan were reported missing. They were a vulnerable couple having dealt with drug addiction & their child had been removed by social services. They met Todd who had offered them manual labor jobs on his property. The Coxie couple came to the property, they got out of the car & Todd fatally shot Johnnie in the torso, took Meagan to a container where he held her captive for about a week. Todd later said that Meagan had been acting like a caged animal while held captive, so, “I put a bullet into the back of her head.” He dug 2 graves for Johnny & Meagan on his property, buried them & headed back to work as a real estate agent, unbothered by anything that had happened. The case was cold with no leads & Todd again got away with murder. It was later found that Todd had frequented a Waffle House where Meagan was a waitress. He would leave waitresses large tips & try to persuade them to come to his house. Eventually the women complained & male staff were only allowed to serve Todd.
On September 4, 2016 the family of 32-year-old Charles/Charlie David Carver contacted the police, letting them know their son was missing. Charlie’s dad Chuck had described his son as very caring & helpful; someone who would give you the last $2 that he had or the shirt off his back. Charlie would text his dad on a nearly daily basis, often about sports. Chuck said the last text he got from Charlie was about football/a funny cartoon that he still keeps on his phone today. Kala Brown, Charlie’s girlfriend, was also reported missing, her family & friends unable to reach her. The couple’s dog was also found in their apartment without food or water which they would have never done. Charlie’s friend also began receiving odd messages on Facebook, asking for money for drugs. Charlie had never been known to be a drug user. There were also strange updates that Carlie & Kala were expecting a baby, that they had bought a house & gotten married. When authorities gained access to Charlie & Kala’s FB accounts, they found messages between the two about working on Todd’s property. In late August Charlie & Kala were contacted by Todd about potential work. Kala had met Todd & would often chat with him on Facebook. She’d work for him in the past, cleaning houses for him. For weeks, Charlie & Kala were nowhere to be found. 30 days into the search, Charlie’s dad Chuck had a terrible feeling that something bad had happened to his son & felt that he wouldn’t be returning home. The search continued through October of 2016 but still, they couldn’t be found. Little did they know, on August 31, Charlie & Kala came to Todd’s property together. Todd told Kala & Charlie to wait outside while he went into his home. When he returned, he was holding a gun & he shot Charlie in the chest 3 times as Kala stood watching in horror as her boyfriend died in front of her. Todd then approached Kala, shoving her into a shipping container & chaining her to the wall inside.
Kala remained in captivity for 65 days & tortured her with sexual violence, sometimes raping her twice a day. He would remove her shackles from her neck & feet, keeping her hands bound between 1-3pm each day & take Kala into his home where she was forced to perform any sexual acts Todd asked of her, pointing a gun at her. He would then feed her & take her back to the storage container. She was allowed to use the restroom once a day & given a pot of water to bathe with every other day. She was told by Todd that he “owned her & she was his possession.” Todd would then leave Kala in the container while he went about his day as if nothing had happened. Kala was forced to sit virtually all day long & sleep on dog beds that Todd had lined up. There were bins of snacks in the container; crackers & bread & adult coloring books, regular books & an MP3 player were found. Kala later told Dr Phil in an interview that Todd’s hope was that Kala would develop Stockholm Syndrome & begin to fall in love with him. He planned to build a house for the two of them where his “good kitten” would stay in a soundproof room. However, it was later found that Todd had already pre-dug a grave & was likely planning on killing Kala soon.
Unbeknownst to Todd, police were using cell phone triangulation, finding Kala’s phone pinging in Spartanburg County. Property records showed that the property belonged to Todd Kohlhepp.
On November 3, police came to Todd’s house in Spartanburg which was 20 minutes from his Woodruff property & in the meantime, another group of investigators went to the Woodruff property with a search warrant. There they found a 30’x15’ shipping container where they could hear Kala banging on the side. They had to cut through 5 locks & then found Kala chained by the neck, legs bound at the ankles at the far end of the container. Investigators asked if she knew where Charlie was & Kala informed them that he had been shot dead. The officers at Todd’s house were notified. Todd denied knowing anything about what happened with Todd & Kala when questioned. Meanwhile, Charlie’s family were notified of the tragic murder of their son. Days later, Chuck visited the property where his son was killed without a thought. The bodies of Johnny & Meagan Coxie were also found in shallow graves.
Arrest & investigation
Todd was arrested & charged for the 3 murders & the imprisonment of Kala Brown. He hoped to work out a deal & let the authorities know that he had a lot more to tell them. He confessed to the motorcycle shop shootings that had gone unsolved for 13 years. When talking about the motorcycle shop murders, he said, “I shot the mechanic twice. They heard the gunshots in the back & were coming this way to figure out what happened. I had 3 people in front of me, I dropped them all.” “That was one big building & I cleared it in under 30 seconds. You guys would have been proud, I’m sorry, but you guys would have been proud!” As he sat at the table chuckling, looking for validation. He said, “I had to wait, one of the guys wasn’t there. I had to wait for him to come in. Finally all four showed up.” He knew details from the crime that had never been released to the public. The family members of the shootings were notified, including Scott’s widow Melissa. According to Todd’s mom, he had tried to return a motorcycle there but the employees refused, laughing at him for not knowing how to ride a motorcycle. It was harmless banter & most would have laughed at themselves & moved on, instead, Todd felt that they needed to pay. Before Todd left the store, he went back to each victim & shot them in the head before leaving.
A search of Todd’s property found various weapons & ammunition. Following his arrest, he had told his mom that there were more victims than what had been discovered. When she asked how many, he responded with, “you do not have enough fingers.” During interrogation, he had claimed to have shot another victim in Arizona. On November 18, 2016, Tempe Police began to investigate Todd’s claim, searching through unsolved murders from the past 3 decades, focusing on 1983-1986, the years he had been living with his father & from August 2001-November 2001 when he completed his sentence for kidnapping.
On November 25, 2016 police in Greer, SC announced that Todd was a person of interest in an unsolved 2003 bank robbery & triple homicide at the Blue Ridge Savings Bank. This was six months from the Chesnee shootings. As of May 16, 2018 there was no definitive link found with Todd & he denied involvement in the case.
December 2017, Todd wrote to the Spartanburg Herald Journal claiming he had more victims which hadn’t been discovered.
Todd was charged with 4 counts of murder for the Chesnee shootings, one count of kidnapping for Brown’s abduction. He was later charged with 3 more counts of murder for the murders of Carver & the Coxies, along with one additional count of kidnapping & three counts of possession of a weapon during a violent crime. He was scheduled for his next court appearance January 19, 2017 though his attorney waived their right to an appearance.
The relatives of the victims & Kala Brown filed wrongful death lawsuits against him. Todd’s assets were divvied up & half was given to Kala Brown which amounted to 6.3 million.
On May 26, 2017, Todd plead guilty to 7 counts of murder, 2 counts of kidnapping and one count of criminal sexual assault & was sentence to 7 consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole in a plea bargain that spared him from the death penalty. His defense swore at the sentencing that there were no other victims to be found though Todd repeaditly admitted there were at least 2 other murders . As of August 2018, he has yet to give authorities any details. He is currently imprisoned at the Board River Correctional Institution in Columbia, SC.
Two years later in July of 2019, the family members of the victims were given the opportunity to confront Todd. Charlie’s dad Chuck said that the whole time he spoke of Charlie & their devastating loss, Todd remained engaged, looking right at him, as Chuck tried to convey what had been taken from him & their family. Melissa was also given the opportunity to speak & used the opportunity to forgive Todd despite the fact that he had destroyed her life. Her son Scott Jr was also there to look into Todd’s eyes
Association with Amazon
May 2014, around the time Todd had purchased his large, wooded property, an Amazon user known as “me” began leaving short disturbing reviews about products he had been ordering from Amazon; some potential murder weapons. The user’s wish list was linked to Todd. Between 2014 & 2016 he left over 140 Amazon reviews
A review for a pocket knife: Havnet stabbed anyone yet..yet.. But I am keeping the dream alive and when I do, it will be with a quality tool like this. Posted 9/13/14
Stun gun: Seriously trying to find a reason to zap one of my agents for being lazy.. Its going to be the new office motivational tool.
Review for shovel: Keep in the car for when you have to hid the bodies & you left the full size shovel at home.. Does not come with a midget which would have been nice.
Chainsaw: Getting the neighbbor to stand still while you chase him with it is hard enough without having A easy to use chainsaw.
Padlock: Solid locks.. Have 5 on a shipping container.. Wont stop them.. But sure will slow them down til they are too old to care
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