Sheriff: South Carolina kidnapping suspect killed 7 people

Woodruff, SC - The man charged with abducting an Anderson woman and keeping her chained in a metal storage shed has implicated himself in a 13-year-old unsolved murder of four at a Chesnee motorcycle shop, and is now suspected in the deaths of as many as seven people, the sheriff announced late Saturday night.

Sheriff Chuck Wright said murder warrants have been drawn charging Todd Christopher Kohlhepp with the murder of four people at Superbike Motorsports in Chesnee, a quadruple slaying that occurred exactly 13 years ago Sunday.

In addition, Kohlhepp, who was seen walking the property with investigators Saturday afternoon, has led authorities to where he said two other bodies are buried. Wright did not identify those individuals, nor, he said, have investigators unearthed those remains.

"Mr. Todd talked to me today and I prayed with him," Wright said. "I prayed that he would find God."

Asked how authorities were certain that Kohlhepp was responsible for the previously unsolved killings at the motorcycle shop, Wright said, "He told us some stuff that nobody else ought to know."

Earlier Saturday, Wright identified a body found in a shallow grave on the property Friday as that of Charles David Carver. Carver, the boyfriend of the kidnapped woman, was shot multiple times before he was buried in a shallow grave in a clearing off Wofford Road, authorities said.

Wright and Coroner Rusty Clevenger delivered the news of Carver's identification during a brief update earlier Saturday night.

"We certainly wanted a different outcome than this," Wright said. He declined to go into detail about the ongoing investigation but said more information would be released later Saturday.

Carver died of multiple gunshot wounds to the upper extremities, said Clevenger, who ruled the death a homicide.

Earlier Saturday, the mother of the missing Anderson man whose girlfriend was abducted and found chained inside a storage shed told the Anderson Independent Mail that she is refusing to give up hope she will one day see her son alive.

“Until I see a body, I can’t give up,” said Joanne Shiflet, mother of the 32-year-old Carver. “For this to be over, I have to see him.”

In an exclusive interview with the Independent-Mail, Shiflet said she has experienced a range of emotions since learning on Friday that Kohlhepp, 45, allegedly shot her son. Her son's girlfriend was found on Thursday chained around her neck and ankles inside a metal shed on a 95-acre tract of land owned by Kohlhepp on Wofford Road near Woodruff.

The victim has told investigators that she saw Kohlhepp shoot Carver, according to 7th Circuit Solicitor Barry Barnette, who said it is likely Kohlhepp will face at least one charge of murder.

Late Saturday afternoon, Kohlhepp in handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit could be seen accompanied by law enforcement authorities walking on the property. It was not immediately clear why Kohlhepp was brought to the search scene and whether he was cooperating with investigators. He was escorted off the property in an unmarked SUV less than hour later.

Wright has refused to comment on Kohlhepp's appearance.

Wright had previously said human remains were found on the property and that investigators fear they are dealing with the work of a serial killer.

Law enforcement would soon take shifts searching the property one portion at a time, Wright added.

"This is one of the biggest crime scenes I've been involved in," he said.

He said they were dedicated to finding any evidence on the property "no matter how long it takes."

Shiflet said she has been told that it may be several days before she learns whether the body is that of her son.

“Right now, I am just angry,” said Shiflet, who lives in Starr.

The pair were reported missing in early September by friends and family in Anderson. Kohlhepp has been charged with the woman's kidnapping and is being held without bond at the Spartanburg County Detention Center.

Shiflet said she was in court for Kohlhepp's arraignment on Friday when she learned that the woman had told authorities she saw Kohlhepp shoot Carver.

“It was like a slap in the face,” Shiflet said.

According to Shiflet, Carver and the woman drove from Anderson to Kohlhepp's land near Woodruff to talk to him about clearing some property for him.

“It ended up being a trap,” she said.

Shiflet said she learned during Friday’s hearing that the woman knocked on the door of a two-story garage after she and Carver arrived at the property. According to Shiflet, The victim said Carver was shot immediately after the door opened.

Carver’s car was found on the property Thursday.

Shiflet said she and her husband and their adult children have spent much of their time at the property near Woodruff since the woman was found Thursday. She said the wait for answers has been agonizing.

“It is kind of like the feeling of being seasick,” Shiflet said.

She described her son as a cheerful man who enjoyed helping others. "David loved laughter. He loved making people laugh,” Shiflet said. “He was always smiling.”

Shiflet said her son got married about three years ago. She said he and his wife separated in late May or early June. Neighbors of the couple at the Anderson Crossing Apartments said their break-up was acrimonious.

Shiflet said financial problems factored into her son’s failed marriage. “It was hard for David to make ends meet with only one of them working,” she said.

Carver met his girlfriend while working with her mother at a warehouse in Greenville, Shiflet said. They were friends at first, she said, before the woman moved into his apartment this summer.

Shiflet said she was introduced to her about a week before the woman and her son went missing in late August.

“She came up and gave me the biggest hug,” Shiflet said. “She told me that she wanted me to know everything about her.”

Shiflet said she knew that her son was in love.

“You could feel it,” she said. “This was the first happiness that he had known for a long time.”

Investigators returned to the scene before sunrise Saturday to resume their search of property in Spartanburg County. As law enforcement continued to work through the morning, several local residents set up a table with snacks and water for police, media and volunteers at the property on Wofford Road near Woodruff.

Among the onlookers in Woodruff was Scott Waldrop, who said his family has lived on Wofford Road for about 22 years, and who said he struck up an acquaintance with the Kohlhepp a couple of years ago shortly after Kohlhepp purchased the 95-acre property.

He said Kohlhepp liked to talk a lot, and they hit it off the first time. He said Kohlhepp liked to show off his guns. Though he was not a hunter, he was a "great marksman," Waldrop said.

Waldrop said he helped plant trees in front of the fence lining the property and assisted posting no trespassing signs.

They last communicated through text messages last week, he said. Kohlhepp had sent Waldrop a message that said, "Remind me later to tell you about my little altercation with some hunters two weeks ago. The ran off my land in middle of dark (sic)."

Waldrop said that when he heard about Brown being discovered alive nearby he thought she had been found in a container on a four-acre piece of property the two had seen near Kohlhepp's property. He texted Kohlhepp Thursday asking him to call him as soon as possible, not knowing that Kohlhepp had been taken into custody in connection with the woman's kidnapping.

Waldrop said he was shocked to she was found on Kohlhepp's land. "It's a bad travesty," he said.

Wright said authorities will continue the painstaking process of searching the property for as long as it takes to find answers. Wright said they had searched about 30 to 40 percent of the property since Thursday. He said they have found numerous weapons and ammunition.

Several holes could be seen Friday night near the center of the property where an excavator had dug up the earth. A beige two-story garage stood nearby. Barnette said investigators found a bed with chains around it in the living space above the garage.

A gravel path connected the garage to a dark green shed and storage container where the woman was kept chained. The door to the container was open, and crime scene tape cordoned off the area.

In one clearing, officers could be seen collecting evidence from one of several shallow holes in the ground.


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