What we know about SC kidnapping suspect
Suspect Todd Kohlhepp went before a judge but the matter of his bond was referred to another court. For now, he’s still in jail.
Kohlhepp, 45, told a judge he did not have an attorney and asked what would happen if he didn’t have one in time for an initial appearance, which is scheduled for January 19. He has not entered a plea.
An arrest warrant alleges that he kidnapped 30-year-old Kala Brown about August 31 in Spartanburg County. Authorities say they found Brown on Thursday chained inside a shipping container on Kohlhepp’s farm property near Woodruff.
Searchers found a body Friday on the property, but it is too soon to say whether it was that of Brown’s missing boyfriend or someone else.
Here’s what we know so far about Kohlhepp:
1. He’s been and convicted of 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
Kohlhepp — who is 5-foot-11 and weighs about 300 pounds — had numerous guns on the property where Brown was found and a body was discovered, officials said.
7th Judicial Circuit Solicitor Barry Barnette told a judge at Kohlhepp’s arraignment that the suspect appeared to have been target shooting on the land he owns near Woodruff.
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 describes himself as a former professional graphic designer and a licensed pilot.
On the website for his real estate company, Kohlhepp also says he studied computer science and business administration.
6. 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.