Coroner: Body found on S.C. property where woman found alive, "chained like a dog"

Kala Brown

WSPA

WOODRUFF, S.C. -- A South Carolina coroner says a body has been found on the property where a missing 30-year-old woman was found chained inside a large storage container.

Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger confirmed in an email to CBS News’ Crimesider that investigators are in the “beginning stages of the discovery of one body” on the Woodruff, South Carolina property where deputies responded Thursday after a tip from police investigating the disappearance of an Anderson couple.

Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright said Kala Brown, who vanished with her boyfriend Charlie Carver more than two months ago, was found alive Thursday morning inside a padlocked 30’ by 15’ metal container on the rural property, chained around the neck “like a dog.”

Todd Christopher Kohlhepp, 45, a registered sex offender, reportedly owns the property where Brown and the body were discovered and has been charged with kidnapping. He was arrested at his home in Moore after Brown was found. Wright says he’s confident Kohlhepp will also face a murder charge.

Carver, 32, remains missing. At a bond hearing for Kohlhepp Friday, solicitor Barry Barnette said Brown told investigators she saw the suspect shoot and kill Carver, reports CBS affiliate WSPA. Carver’s car was found on the plot Thursday, CBS News’ Errol Barnett reported.

It’s not clear whether the remains found on the property might be Carver. At a press conference Friday, Sheriff Chuck Wright said the body has not been identified. He said the body was found in a shallow grave and investigators could not immediately determine whether it is male or female.

Wright said Brown told investigators there could be as many as four bodies on the property, but police are still investigating. Wright said it’s possible the case is connected to other missing persons in the area and that authorities may be dealing with a “serial killer.” 

Wright also said that authorities will reopen all of the county’s missing person cases.

Referring to the body, Wright said his “heart breaks for the families of whoever this person belonged to.”

Authorities were scouring the nearly 100-acre plot on foot and by air, reportedly using a helicopter, an excavator and cadaver dogs. WSPA reported the dogs “alerted” authorities to several areas on the lot.

Brown told investigators she had been held there against her will for two months. She said she had been fed during her time in captivity. Investigators serving a search warrant there heard her banging from inside the container, Wright said. Her cell phone had at one point pinged on the property before going dead, reported WSPA.

“It was pretty emotional, to say the least,” Wright told reporters. “When she was found, she was chained like a dog – she had a chain around her neck.”

carver.jpg

Charlie Carver

WSPA

The missing case gained national attention after suspicious posts appeared on Carver’s Facebook page that his family suspected were posted by someone else. The page was later taken down.

Wright said Brown knew Kohlhepp, but couldn’t detail the relationship. He said he didn’t believe the crime was random. Barnett reported Brown cleaned houses for Kohlhepp, who had worked as as a real estate agent and had a pilot’s license in South Carolina.

Kohlhepp was convicted of a 1986 kidnapping in Arizona that landed him on the sex offender registry.

South Carolina’s sex offender registry lists the Arizona offense as the reason Kohlhepp is in the database of sex offenders. It indicates he was a juvenile offender, convicted in 1987 when he was a teenager.

Matching online prison records from Arizona show that Kohlhepp served about 14 years for the felony and was released in 2001.

The Arizona records show the kidnapping happened in November 1986 in the Phoenix area. The records don’t elaborate on the crime, but do list some violations while in prison. The records say he destroyed property and fought on a number of occasions while incarcerated in 1991 and 1988.