Sunday 4 December 2016

Third body found on suspected serial killer's South Carolina property

Published 08/11/2016 | 03:41

Excavation and search work continues on Todd Kohlhepp's property in Woodruff (AP)
Excavation and search work continues on Todd Kohlhepp's property in Woodruff (AP)

A third body has been found at the property of a South Carolina man linked to seven deaths and the kidnapping of a woman who was found chained inside a storage container.

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Todd Kohlhepp, 45, became a suspect after the woman was found on Thursday chained by her neck and ankle in a metal storage container on his 95-acre property near rural Woodruff.

The body of her boyfriend was found a day later. The couple had been missing for about two months.

The other remains were found near one another on Sunday and Monday, and the authorities are not sure who they are.

Investigators were expected back at the property on Tuesday, but Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger said he did not think there were any more bodies.

"As the coroner, that's all I have been advised of. That was the total number of bodies I was told was on the property. If I am told there are more, I will be back," he said.

Following Kohlhepp's arrest, he confessed to a 2003 quadruple killing at a motorcycle shop in the small town of Chesnee, said Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright.

He was denied bond on Sunday on four murder charges for gunning down the motorcycle shop's owner, service manager, mechanic and bookkeeper.

Mr Wright has said Kohlhepp gave details only the killer would know. His confession came a day before the 13th anniversary of the crime, which many feared would never be solved.

Before his confession, authorities granted him three requests, WSPA-TV reported. One was to transfer money to a girl Kohlhepp says he is helping to raise, to help pay for college. The second was to give his mother a photograph, and the third was to let him talk to his mother.

Kohlhepp is charged with kidnapping the woman, and more criminal counts are expected. He has chosen to represent himself and not hire a lawyer.

Mr Wright, who was first elected about a year after the Superbike Motorsports killings, is now investigating what appears to be a crime spree stretching over more than a decade.

As a teenager, Kohlhepp was sentenced to 14 years in prison in Arizona for binding and raping a 14-year-old neighbour at gunpoint.

He was released in 2001, and managed to obtain a real estate licence in South Carolina in 2006. The search for human remains has now expanded to other properties he owns or used to own, including places outside South Carolina.

Kohlhepp showed investigators on Saturday where he says he buried two other victims on the property he bought two years ago.

Mr Wright said they were " not even close" to identifying the remains or cause of death.

Kohlhepp did not tell investigators who was buried there. Removing the remains to "preserve every bit of evidence" is a meticulous, time-consuming process, the coroner said.

The graves Kohlhepp pointed to are in addition to the body found on Friday in a shallow grave at the site.

The authorities identified that victim as the boyfriend of the woman found on Thursday. Mr Clevenger said he died of multiple gunshot wounds.

AP

Press Association

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