Todd Kohlhepp: South Carolina realtor accused in kidnapping, killings
WOODRUFF, S.C. — Todd Christopher Kohlhepp boasted online about his business savvy and his love of label makers. But now investigators are painting a far more sinister picture of the 45-year-old South Carolina real estate agent.
He’s accused of kidnapping a woman and holding her captive for two months. He’s facing at least four counts of murder after he allegedly confessed to a 2003 massacre at a motorcycle shop. And authorities say they’ve found at least two bodies on a 100-acre farm he owns.
Details of those cases are still emerging, and Kohlhepp hasn’t entered pleas in court. But records and online posts give us a window into his past.
Here’s what we know so far about Kohlhepp:
1. He’s already served prison time for kidnapping
Kohlhepp was a teenager living in Tempe, Arizona, when he was accused of holding a 14-year-old girl at gunpoint and sexually assaulting her.
Originally, he was charged with kidnapping, sexual assault and committing a dangerous crime against children. The other charges were dropped after he pleaded guilty to kidnapping and was sentenced to 15 years in prison, according to court records obtained by CNN affiliates KPHO and KTVK.
That 1987 case landed Kohlhepp on the sex offender registry in South Carolina.
2. Judge called him ‘behaviorally and emotionally dangerous’
In 1987, Maricopa (Arizona) County Judge C. Kimball Rose ordered that Kohlhepp’s case should be transferred out of the juvenile system because his offenses had been committed “in an aggressive, violent, obviously premeditated and willful manner,” according to the court documents.
“At less than the age of 9, this juvenile was impulsive, explosive, and preoccupied with sexual content. He has not changed. He has been unabatedly aggressive to others and destructive of property since nursery school,” the judge’s ruling said. “He destroys his own clothing, personal possessions, and pets apparently on whim and caprice. Approximately six years of intervention in fifteen years of life have resulted in abysmal failure. Twenty-five months of the most intensive and expensive professional intervention, short of God’s, will provide no protection for the public and no rehabilitation of this juvenile by any services or facilities presently available to the Juvenile Court.”
3. Solicitor: He shot guns on property
Court proceedings and online records reveal several details about Kohlhepp’s farm in rural Woodruff, South Carolina, where authorities say they’ve found the remains of two people and rescued 30-year-old kidnapping victim Kala Brown.
Kohlhepp — who is 5-foot-11 and weighs about 300 pounds — had numerous guns on the property, officials said.
Barry Barnette, a 7th Judicial Circuit solicitor, told a judge at Kohlhepp’s arraignment that the suspect appeared to have been target shooting on the land he owns.
Discarded targets were found near a two-car garage. “He appears to be a very good shot from looking at the shooting that he did,” Barnette said.
According to tax records, Kohlhepp bought the 95.57-acre property for $305,000 in May 2014.
4. He’s a real estate agent
When he applied to take a real estate license exam in South Carolina in 2006, Kohlhepp offered an explanation of his criminal history, telling officials that the Arizona case was his only conviction and that he’d made significant strides to follow the law and give back to the community since then.
In that letter, Kohlhepp said he’d been charged with kidnapping because he was a minor in possession of a firearm during an argument with his girlfriend.
“I was charged with the felony of kidnapping due to the fact that I did have a firearm on me regardless that she didn’t know it, and I had told her not to move while we talked this out,” he said. “At this time, Arizona was coming down very hard on minors and anything to do with firearms due to the heavy gang activity out there, and I received a sentence of 15 years, for which I served every day, no parole required.”
5. He described himself as a former professional graphic designer and a licensed pilot.
The website for Kohlhepp’s real estate company promised fast action for clients with a motto plastered across the page: “One Company, One Focus, Results.”
Kohlhepp’s bio on the site, which has now been taken down, said he studied computer science and business administration. The site described Kohlhepp as a former professional graphic designer and a licensed pilot who drinks two pots of coffee a day, “does not understand what ‘it can wait til tomorrow’ means” and “has way too much fun with a label maker.”
6. His parents divorced when he was very young
According to court documents, Kohlhepp’s parents divorced when he was either 1 or 2 years old. His mother remarried when he was 3 and later divorced and remarried his stepfather several times.
Kohlhepp lived with his mother in Georgia and South Carolina for most of his childhood but went to stay with his biological father in Arizona when he was 12. He was going to high school in Tempe when he was arrested and convicted of kidnapping.