Cap­tive’s res­cue leads to break in grisly quadru­ple slay­ing

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Meg Kinnard and Seanna Adcox

CH­ES­NEE, S.C. >> For 13 years, the rel­a­tives came to­gether pe­ri­od­i­cally to grieve one of South Carolina’s gris­li­est mass shoot­ings and com­pare leads with stumped in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

On Sunday, they gath­ered again on the an­niver­sary of the crime — this time in a Spar­tan­burg court­room after an un­ex­pected break led to the man who, au­thor­i­ties say, con­fessed to the quadru­ple slay­ings.

The vic­tims’ rel­a­tives sat a few feet away from Todd Kohlhepp as he was de­nied bond on the mur­der charges. It was their first chance to face the man ac­cused of killing their loved ones.

After the hear­ing, Mag­is­trate Judge Jimmy Hen­son thanked the fam­i­lies for their ci­vil­ity and composure.

“I know there’s a lot of hurt ... beyond what a lot of peo­ple un­der­stand,” he said.

Au­thor­i­ties have charged Kohlhepp, 45, with four counts of mur­der in the 2003 deaths at the Su­per­bike Mo­tor­sports mo­tor­cy­cle shop in Ch­es­nee.

Kohlhepp’s al­leged role in those killings was un­cov­ered, au­thor­i­ties said, after a woman was found last week chained in a locked metal con­tainer on Kohlhepp’s prop­erty in ru­ral Woodruff.

The mur­der charges against Kohlhepp rep­re­sent wel­come progress for in­ves­ti­ga­tors and fam­i­lies haunted by the slay­ings at the mo­tor­cy­cle shop. The killings shocked the state and left the vic­tims’ par­ents and spouses reel­ing with each new ru­mor about a pos­si­ble mo­tive.

“We got ‘em to­day. We got ‘em to­day,” Sher­iff Chuck Wright said late Satur­day, re­fer­ring to an­swers in the cold case. “I’m re­joic­ing that this com­mu­nity can know that four peo­ple who were bru­tally mur­dered, there’s no won­der­ing about it any­more,” said Wright, who was first elected to the po­si­tion about a year after the quadru­ple slay­ings.

A Spar­tan­burg County Sher­iff’s in­ves­tiga­tive re­port from Satur­day says Kohlhepp “con­fessed to in­ves­ti­ga­tors that he shot and killed” the owner, ser­vice man­ager, me­chanic and book­keeper of the mo­tor­cy­cle shop, giv­ing de­tails only the killer would know.

Kohlhepp is also charged with the woman’s kid­nap­ping, and pros­e­cu­tors say more charges are ex­pected.

Of­fi­cers are mak­ing more grisly dis­cov­er­ies as they un­wind a hid­den crime spree that un­folded over more than a decade.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion has ex­panded to other prop­er­ties that Kohlhepp, a real es­tate agent, ei­ther cur­rently or used to own. Those prop­er­ties are not lim­ited to South Carolina, Wright said Sunday, de­clin­ing to be more spe­cific.

Both the FBI and Home­land Se­cu­rity are in­volved, he said.

Kohlhepp showed in­ves­ti­ga­tors Satur­day where he says he buried two other vic­tims on his 95-acre prop­erty near Woodruff. Hu­man re­mains were un­cov­ered Sunday at one of those sites, Wright said.

“We’re not even close” on iden­ti­fy­ing the re­mains or cause of death, he said. “We can’t tell any­thing.”

Kohlhepp did not tell in­ves­ti­ga­tors who was buried there. Even if he did, in­ves­ti­ga­tors can’t take that as iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, the sher­iff said.

The ex­ca­va­tion of that grave and search for oth­ers con­tin­ues Mon­day.

The gravesites Kohlhepp pointed to are in ad­di­tion to the body found Fri­day at the site. Au­thor­i­ties iden­ti­fied that vic­tim as 32-yearold Charles Carver, the boyfriend of the woman found Thurs­day. Carver died of mul­ti­ple gun­shot wounds after he and the woman went miss­ing at the end of Au­gust.

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.

In Spar­tan­burg, Kohlhepp ap­peared in an or­ange jump­suit for the brief bond hear­ing and de­clined to make a state­ment. He didn’t have an at­tor­ney.

After Kohlhepp left the court­room, Hen­son told the fam­ily mem­bers that they would have a chance later to ad­dress Kohlhepp in court.

“When it comes your time to speak to that de­fen­dant, speak from the heart,” he said. “You have some­thing to say. You’ve been wait­ing 13 years to say it.”

The fa­ther of Brian Lu­cas, the 29-year-old slain ser­vice man­ager, thanked the judge.

“Your honor, I ap­pre­ci­ate your words to us and your coun­sel,” Tom Lu­cas said as two oth­ers put their hands on his shoul­ders. “We thank you.”

Stand­ing with his wife be­fore the hear­ing, Lu­cas said he wanted to be in court to look Kohlhepp in the eye.

“I want to look at him, and I want to try to use that in heal­ing,” he said.


JoAnn McKin­ney, a lo­cal res­i­dent, pre­pares a cross Sunday on the fence of Todd Kohlhepp’s prop­erty in Woodruff, S.C. Au­thor­i­ties have charged Kohlhepp, 45, with four counts of mur­der in the deaths of four peo­ple in 2003 at the Su­per­bike Mo­tor­sports mo­tor­cy­cle shop.

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