A South Carolina woman has been found alive after being held captive inside a metal storage container at a property in Woodruff, South Carolina, local authorities confirmed on Thursday Time
ANDERSON, S.C. — A woman missing since the end of August was found Thursday chained up in a metal container in upstate South Carolina.
Kala Brown and her boyfriend, Charles Carver, 32, were last heard from Aug. 31.
On Thursday, Brown, 30, was found “in a container, chained up like a dog,” in Woodruff, S.C., said Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright.
Todd Christopher Kohlhepp, 45, a registered sex offender from Moore, S.C., was arrested in connection with Brown’s discovery, Wright said. No charge was listed on the Spartanburg Sheriff’s Office website.
Brown worked for Kohlhepp, who is a Spartanburg County real estate broker and a licensed pilot. Police searched a home belonging to Kohlhepp and removed a car from the property late Thursday.
Police are still looking for Carver.
More than two dozen law enforcement officers were in Woodruff on Thursday focusing on a field and a wooded area surrounded by a chain-link fence. Woodruff is about 30 miles southeast of Greenville, S.C.
Anderson Police Chief Jim Stewart said more than a dozen search warrants were issued in their investigation into the couple’s disappearance. “We got computer and cellphone records that ultimately led us to the area in Woodruff,” he said. “We knew that was the last place that a cellphone tied to this case pinged.”
Stewart said Spartanburg County investigators had been looking at the same land for a different case and were on the property Thursday morning when they heard Brown banging in the container where she had been kept.
Stewart said Anderson police are still looking for other suspects.
“We are in a wait-and-see mode,” Stewart said. “We need more information before we will know how to go forward.”
Stewart said Carver’s estranged wife, Nicole Ellen Carver, had spoken with investigators, but wouldn’t say what information, if any, they got from her.
Brown’s close friend, Leah Miller, said Brown helped Kohlhepp clean houses and clear properties before he offered them for sale or rent.
“I was supposed to be helping Kala, but I recently had neck surgery,” said Miller. “I’m just in shock, wondering if she tried to reach me to help her before she disappeared. I’m happy that she is alive, but my heart is breaking because we don’t know what’s going on with Charlie.”
Miller said she believes Brown started working for Kohlhepp just weeks before she disappeared.
Wright said Brown told investigators that there may be other victims.
“We’re trying to make sure that we don’t have a serial killer on our hands,” he said.
Kohlhepp’s co-workers were shocked to hear of his arrest.
“This is a nightmare,” said Manfred Lewis, an agent at TKA Real Estate in Spartanburg. “I’m shocked. We don’t know what’s going on but I’ve never had problems with him. He was always professional to me. Friendly.”
Brown is being treated at a hospital, he said.
Before the couple disappeared, they shared an apartment in Anderson, S.C. Carver worked at a tissue plant there.
According to police reports, Carver’s mother, Claudia Shiflet, had been unable to reach him since Aug. 29.
Miller, told police she last heard from Brown in an Aug. 31 text message.
“Are you awake?” was the message.
Miller answered it later that day, but didn’t hear back from Brown.
Carver drove a 2002 white Pontiac Grand Prix with South Carolina license plates and an LSU decal. The car has not been found.
Gwen Ravan, who lives across the street from the Woodruff scene, said she found it all disconcerting.
“It’s very unsettling,” she said. “I’m here by myself a lot, so it’s unsettling to know that this could be happening so close by.”
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