UPDATE: Although Kala Brown was finally found alive after going missing back in August, the search continued for her boyfriend, Charlie. The hunt for her partner may be coming to an end as Brown alleges that their captor killed him.
According to TIME, Brown was forced to watch as the accused kidnapper, Todd Kohlhepp, fatally shot her boyfriend.
“She told us this individual did kill him in her presence,” prosecutor Barry Barnette reportedly said at Kohlhepp’s bond hearing in court.
Barnette also noted that there was an unidentified body found on the rural property where Brown was found.
Kala Brown, 30, and her boyfriend Charlie Carver, 32, vanished from their apartment in Anderson, South Carolina, in August.
After months of investigation, which took several bizarre twists along the way, police found Brown alive in a metal storage container in Woodruff. As the authorities report, the woman was “chained like a dog” in a 30-by-15-foot crate owned by her employer Todd Kohlhepp, who also turned out to be a convicted sex offender in Arizona.
“It's all by God's grace that we found that little girl alive,” said Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright, adding that a sex crimes tip led them to the rural property, where they found Brown after hearing banging on the metal container.
She was transferred to a local hospital for treatment. Wright said the victim was “obviously traumatized” but “alive and well.”
The police also arrested Kohlhepp, a real estate agent, and charged him with kidnapping. Additional charges are likely.
Carver remains missing.
Here is what you need to know about the case.
Brown worked for Kohlhepp’s real estate company as a cleaner. The couple had recently moved in together and last contacted their loved ones on Aug. 31, when Brown made dinner plans with friends and Carver left for work.
Family members found their apartment unlocked with their medication and other necessities still inside. Their phones were turned off.
More importantly, the couple’s dog was also present inside, left without food and water.
“That dog is her baby. She’d never leave him like that,” Brown’s mother, Bobbie Newsome, told NBC News at the time.
Carver’s car also went missing. Police recovered it from soon after finding Brown. It was in a ravine and covered in brush.
Once the search for the missing couple started, Carver’s now deactivated Facebook page, which he rarely used, suddenly became active.
The account even posted about the two getting married. There are also several bizarre posts unrelated to the couple's disappearance, such as memes and comic book illustrations.
Relatives believed the account had been hacked.
When a concerned friend tried to reach out to Carver, they received a private message saying, “Yes I'm fine” — which was apparently quite different from how Carver talks.
Meanwhile, while Carver and Brown’s families were receiving cryptic notifications from Carver’s social media account, Kohlhepp posted this on his Facebook page:
Brown reportedly told police there could be as many as four bodies buried on the rural property.
“We’re trying to make sure we don’t have a serial killer on our hands,” Wright told reporters. “It very possibly could be what we have.”
The police also found weapons and ammunition on the nearly 100-acre property, which they are currently overturning with a backhoe.
“We have no intentions of leaving this property until we’re finished,” Wright added.
Kohlhepp was added to the sex offender registry in 1987. He was convicted and sentenced to prison on the charge of kidnapping in Arizona.
One of Brown’s friends, Leah Miller, said Brown began working for the 45-year-old a few weeks before she disappeared.
Brown used to clean the realtor’s houses and prepare them for viewings.
“I was supposed to be helping Kala, but I recently had neck surgery,” Miller told Greenville Online. “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.”
“This is a nightmare. I’m shocked,” exclaimed Kohlhepp’s colleague Manfred Lewis. “We don’t know what’s going on but I’ve never had problems with him. He was always professional to me. Friendly.”
Prior to working in real estate, Kohlhepp worked as a graphic designer.