Todd Christopher Kohlhepp
A South Carolina man accused of holding a woman chained inside a storage container was due in court for a bond hearing Sunday after investigators say he confessed to an unsolved quadruple murder that happened 13 years ago.
Authorities have charged Todd Kohlhepp, 45, with four counts of murder in the deaths of four people in 2003 at the Superbike Motorsports motorcycle shop in Chesnee, South Carolina. His alleged role in those killings was uncovered, police said, after the woman was found earlier this week in a locked metal container on Kohlhepp’s property in rural Woodruff.
He’s also charged with the woman’s kidnapping, and prosecutors say more charges are expected.
A Spartanburg County Sheriff’s investigative report says Kohlhepp "confessed to investigators that he shot and killed" the owner, service manager, mechanic and bookkeeper of the motorcycle shop. "Kohlhepp gave details … that only the killer would know," the report says.
Authorities say Kohlhepp is a suspect in at least three other deaths.
Sheriff Chuck Wright says Kohlhepp also showed law enforcement officers Saturday where he says he buried two other victims on his 95-acre property near Woodruff. Kohlhepp, in handcuffs and wearing an orange jumpsuit, was at the site for less than an hour.
Those are in addition to the body found Friday at the site. Wright and Coroner Rusty Clevenger identified that victim as 32-year-old Charles Carver, the boyfriend of the woman found Thursday.
Carver and the woman went missing around Aug. 31. Their last known cellphone signals led authorities to the property.
The Associated Press is not naming the woman because the suspect is a sex offender, though authorities have not said whether she was sexually assaulted.
Carver died of multiple gunshot wounds. An anthropologist is helping determine how long Carver was buried, Clevenger said. He declined to say how many times Carver had been shot.
The sheriff says it’s possible more bodies will be uncovered.
The wife of one of the 2003 victims said detectives told her Kohlhepp was an angry customer who had been in the shop several times.
Melissa Ponder told The Associated Press she was resigned that her husband Scott’s death would never be solved before getting a phone call Saturday evening from one of the case’s original detectives.
Detectives told family members of all four victims of the confession at the same time.
"He knew too much about the crime scene," Ponder said of Kohlhepp’s account to detectives. "He knew everything."
The Superbike killings stunned the Chesnee community, with rumors like they were committed by a Mexican drug gang or were part of a love triangle crushing the families of the victims.
Melissa Ponder is glad the rumors weren’t true.
"It isn’t closure, but it is an answer," she said. "And I am thankful for that."
Kohlhepp was released from prison in Arizona in 2001. As a teenager, he was convicted of raping a 14-year-old neighbor at gunpoint and threatening to kill her siblings if she called police. Kohlhepp had to register as a sex offender.
But that didn’t stop him from getting a South Carolina real estate license in 2006 and building a firm.
Wright said "it’s strange" that Kohlhepp managed the pretext of a normal life for so long.
Scott Waldrop, who’s lived next door to the Woodruff property for nearly 22 years, said he thought Kohlhepp was a serious Doomsday "prepper" who liked his privacy, but "he didn’t seem like a threat."
Waldrop said when he saw the container, it was full of bottled water and canned goods. After buying the property two years ago, Kohlhepp immediately started putting a chain link fence around it.
Waldrop said Kohlhepp paid him to put no trespassing signs, cut trees for him and other odd jobs around the property. Kohlhepp also installed deer cameras and put bear traps throughout.
"I was the only one he let over there, I think because I laughed at his jokes and listened to him," he said. "I just hate to know somebody who’s done something like this."
Kohlhepp has a house about 9 miles away in Moore, where neighbor Ron Owen said Kohlhepp was very private but liked to brag about how much money he made day trading online.