As authorities searched the rural South Carolina property owned by Todd Kohlhepp, they walked up to a metal container — 30 feet long, 15 feet wide and 10 to 12 feet high.
They knocked on its side.
That, Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright said, is when the screaming began.
“Help me. Get me out of here,” came a woman’s voice from inside the metal box, according to Wright, who spoke with CNN.
When deputies opened the container, they discovered Kala Brown, a woman who, along with her boyfriend, Charles Carver, had been missing since August. The “obviously traumatized” Brown had been chained by her neck to the container, Wright told WYFF, an NBC affiliate.
“It was pretty emotional, to say the least, when she was found — especially when she was chained like a dog,” Wright said. “She had a chain around her neck.”
After the discovery, Kohlhepp was charged with kidnapping, according to the Associated Press. The 45-year-old licensed pilot and real estate agent appeared in court Friday wearing shorts and a T-shirt, the Greenville News reported.
Prosecutor Barry Barnette said Friday that a body had also been found on the property. The Associated Press reported that the remains had not been identified.
According to the wire service, Barnette said that Brown reportedly witnessed Kohlhepp shooting her boyfriend. “She told us this individual did kill him in her presence,” Barnette said, according to AP.
Authorities on Thursday searched the property in Woodruff, S.C., which is owned by Kohlhepp. He is a convicted sex offender who was added to the registry in 1987, WYFF noted, he was convicted of kidnapping at age 16.
Kala Brown, the woman found in the container, had worked for him.
“We got computer and cellphone records that ultimately led us to the area in Woodruff,” Anderson Police Chief Jim Stewart told the Associated Press. “We knew that was the last place that a cellphone tied to this case pinged.”
They weren’t having much luck until they heard a banging coming from a metal storage container on the property.
The nearly 100-acre property is dotted with bear traps, as WYFF noted, so they moved cautiously toward the container. As Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright told CNN, they thought the noise might simply be an animal scampering about in the woods.
But they found Brown, who reportedly said she’d been kept in the container that way for two months.
As Phyllis Knight, a witness near the rural property where she was found told WLOS: “I think it’s ridiculous — crazy. I’m surprised she’s still living. Thank God, she is alive.”
“It’s only by God’s grace we found that little girl alive,” Wright told WYFF.
Authorities searching the property found many weapons and a large amount of ammunition, which troubled police.
“We’re trying to make sure we don’t have a serial killer on our hands,” Wright told WYFF. “[Which] very possibly could be what we have.”
Brown was sent to a local medical facility after she was found.
Brown and her boyfriend, Carver, went missing in August. The South Carolina couple didn’t show up to dinner with a friend on Aug. 31, and no one heard from them after that.
In mid-October, The Washington Post reported that the couple’s family members were at a loss as to where they could be. They were particularly disturbed by what they saw on Carver’s now-deleted Facebook account.
It appeared to have been taken over, potentially hacked, by someone sinister. As The Post reported:
Suddenly, the page exploded with content, as if it had been hacked. It would appear to be flooded with spam, but a closer inspection revealed many of the posts to be related to the couple.
News stories about the missing couple appeared in rapid-fire succession, along with other stories about missing people. Strange, violent images and memes began being posted on the Facebook page.
“If I weren’t crazy, I’d be insane,” read one. Another read, “Sometimes late at night I dig a hole in the back yard to keep the nosy neighbor’s guessing.”
. . . On Oct. 1, one user commented on the marriage announcement, “Where the hell is Kala Brown???” to which Charlie’s Facebook account responded, “kala is with her husband charlie.”
On another post, a user asked where Kala was, to which Charlie’s account responded “who the f––– are you to question me about my girlfriend?”
The Greenville News reported that Carver’s family was at the scene near the search area Friday.
This story has been updated.
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