Kala Brown remembers Charlie Carver as a “wonderful person,” she said — someone who “lived his life to make others smile.”
“If Charlie couldn’t make somebody smile, his day wasn’t complete,” Brown said during an interview for the “Dr. Phil” show. “He was always joking around and laughing. He was just a very, very special man.”
The couple had been good friends for about a year and had been in a serious relationship for four to five months. Brown said they intended to marry one day.
But in late August, Brown and Carver went missing, a mysterious disappearance that left friends and families concerned. Months later, in early November, authorities would discover an “obviously traumatized” Brown locked inside a metal container on a rural South Carolina property.
Investigators kept searching the land, owned by a man named Todd Kohlhepp, and later discovered Carver’s body in a shallow grave.
“I’ll recover from this,” Brown said in the interview, which the Associated Press reported marked her first public comments since her rescue. “I’ll always miss Charlie. I’ll always wonder what our life would have been like. But as far as what Todd did to me personally, I’m not going to let that man rule my life.”
In the “Dr. Phil” interview with Phil McGraw that aired this week, Brown discussed what she remembered from her time in captivity as well as her memories of her boyfriend’s death, which she says she witnessed.
During the interview, Brown was asked what she would now say to Kohlhepp, who is facing several charges. Investigators believe he might be responsible for the deaths of at least seven people.
“I would just tell him that no matter what he did to me, he did not break me,” Brown responded. “He cannot destroy who I am. And I won.”
“You beat him,” McGraw said.
“He tried to crush me,” Brown said. “But I’m not broken.”
Brown said in the interview that she connected with Kohlhepp through Facebook. Kohlhepp worked in real estate and contacted Brown, who was looking for work, saying that he’d pay her to clean houses. She worked about four or five jobs for him, all with Carver.
Brown described Kohlhepp as “nice” on the first job that they worked — a “regular businessman” who didn’t behave inappropriately. She also recalled the day of the alleged attack, when she says Carver was fatally shot.
On that day, Brown said, Kohlhepp told the pair that they’d be clearing some underbrush. He gave them both a bottle of water and hedge clippers. The three started to head out, Brown said, but Kohlhepp then said he needed to go back inside and fetch something.
When Kohlhepp emerged again, Brown said, he had a gun.
“We were standing there, and I look up and I didn’t realize what was going on at the time,” Brown said. “But he walked out and he had the gun in his hand. And he pretty much shot Charlie before he ever even made it completely out the door. I just, I got lost. I didn’t know what was going on, I didn’t know what to do. I just stood there.”
Brown said that Carver was shot multiple times in the chest. Kohlhepp didn’t initially say anything during the shooting, Brown said.
“Not at first,” she said. “Not until he grabbed me and told me to come inside or I’d join Charlie.”
Brown described Kohlhepp as “completely calm” in that moment, saying that he put his arm around her neck.
“I was in shock,” Brown said. “I just went. He pulled me to go, and told me to go, or I could join Charlie. And I just went. I was numb. I couldn’t think. I still hadn’t comprehended what happened.”
Brown said she realized she had to “stay alive” so she could be found.
“And I realized that it was easier if he thought things were going his way,” she said. “So I made him think whatever I had to, to stay alive and to keep him from abusing me.”
Brown claims in the interview that she was raped while being held captive. The AP notes that Kohlhepp isn’t charged with sexual assault. A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office declined to comment in an email to The Washington Post.
Authorities discovered Brown in early November while searching Kohlhepp’s sprawling property in rural South Carolina. They approached the metal container and knocked on the side. They heard a woman scream inside the box, calling out for help. When deputies opened the container, they found Brown.
“It was pretty emotional, to say the least, when she was found — especially when she was chained like a dog,” Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright told WYFF, an NBC affiliate, at the time. “She had a chain around her neck.”
Officials have said that Kohlhepp has also confessed to a 2003 quadruple homicide. And AP reported that Kohlhepp also showed investigators where he said he buried two other victims on his property.