WOODRUFF — Kala Brown said she spent two months in a metal container in a field until investigators found her Thursday terrified and "chained up like a dog."
Spartanburg County deputies heard Brown banging on the shipping container they came across while searching the 95-acre rural tract with owner Todd Christopher Kohlhepp. Following the emotional moment of discovering Brown in the padlocked container, deputies arrested Kohlhepp.
Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright said Brown, though traumatized, was in good condition. She told investigators there could be bodies throughout the undeveloped tract that's lined by a chain-link fence off Wofford Road.
"This person told us there might even be four people on this property, deceased. We just don’t know," Wright said. "We are trying very hard to search, with volunteers and law enforcement from everywhere helping us."
Brown, 30, and her boyfriend Charlie Carver, 32, both of Anderson, went missing Aug. 30. The couple lived together.
Carver's vehicle was found on Kohlhepp's property later in the day, Wright said.
Formal charges against Kohlhepp, who is a registered sex offender and has retained a lawyer, are forthcoming.
Wright said kidnapping would definitely be one of them and potentially murder.
Kohlehepp, 46, became a registered sex offender in 1987 when he was convicted kidnapping in Arizona, according to the State Law Enforcement Division sex offender registry. The registry lists "Wofford Road" as another address for Kohlehepp.
Kohlhepp owns Spartanburg-based TKA Real Estate, according to the company's website.
Property records show he lives 20 minutes away from the tract where Brown was found. Brandon Jackson, who lives near Kohlhepp, described the neighborhood as "almost too quiet." Jackson didn't know Kohlhepp but said he always parked his cars out of view in the garage.
On Thursday afternoon, one of two BMWs parked inside Kolhepps garage was towed off by law enforcement officials. One officer remained at the site.
Wright said Kohlhepp and Brown's relationship was unclear but that they were acquaintances. Media reports state Brown briefly worked for Kohlhepp before her disappearance.
"The main thing was we found her alive," Wright said. "Thank God."
Anderson Police Chief Jim Stewart told The Anderson Independent newspaper his department's investigation led authorities to the property where Brown was found chained in the container, which also was chained and locked.
She was heard banging on the container believed to be similar in size to those used to transport global freight on trucks, or about 30 feet by 15 feet. It was sitting above ground.
Stewart said more than a dozen search warrants were issued for the Woodruff property, which is about 80 miles northwest of Columbia.
"We got computer and cellphone records that ultimately led us to the area in Woodruff," Stewart told the newspaper. "We knew that was the last place that a cellphone tied to this case pinged." Other suspects may be pursued.
Wright said Brown had a chain around her neck when she was found, according to The Associated Press. She told deputies she had been kept in the container for two months and had been fed regularly, the AP said.
Wright said there is much more to the case that needs to be determined. "We're trying to make sure that we don't have a serial killer on our hands," Wright said.