Todd Kohlhepp is a notorious American serial killer who was declared guilty of killing seven people in South Carolina, between 2003 and 2016. Born in Florida and raised in South Carolina and Georgia, Todd had a troubled childhood, which warped his psyche and turned him into a gruesome killer. His stint with crime began with a rape that he committed when he was 15. He kidnapped a 14-year-old girl, tied her up, and brought her to his home. He raped her and threatened to kill her if she told anybody about the crime. He was sent to jail for 15 years upon getting convicted. He was released from prison in 2001, and it was believed that the education he received in prison had changed his ways to some degree and had made him a better person. However, the authorities could not be more wrong. In November 2006, he killed four people. He targeted two couples a decade later. One of his victims, Kala Brown, was somehow rescued by the police. Todd was taken into custody, and he accepted the charges against him. In 2017, he was subjected to seven consecutive life sentences. He narrowly escaped capital punishment.
Childhood & Early Life
Todd Kohlhepp was born on March 7, 1971, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Regina and William Sampsell. His parents had a troubled marriage and divorced when Todd was still a baby. For many years following that, Todd had no contact with his biological father. His mother married another man when Todd was 3 years of age, and his stepfather made his adoption legal in 1976.
Todd never quite liked his stepfather, and as result, he got beaten up a lot. His mother could not accept this and ended up divorcing and remarrying the same man twice. However, all Todd wanted was to live with his biological father.
The problems at home caused Todd to create trouble in nursery school. As a kid, he showed severe signs of emotional and mental instability. He was violent toward other children and destroyed school property in sudden fits of anger. At the age of 9, he was sent to a mental facility, where it was found that he was “explosive” and already preoccupied with sexual thoughts and desires.
He was excessively cruel toward animals. It is said that he once hunted down a dog with a gun and killed a goldfish. He was hard to control and manage even before reaching his teenage years. Eventually, his mother decided to send him away to his biological father. His father was obsessed with guns and had multiple girlfriends. Todd liked him initially, but he soon got angry with his ways and means. Todd requested his mother to take him back, but it is said that his mother made excuses to extend his stay with his biological father.
Todd was considered a bright student with above-average intelligence.
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Beginnings of the Crime Life
Todd’s stint with crime started early. He was still a teenager when, in 1986, he decided to kidnap and rape a girl who was a year younger to him. The victim was a 14-year-old girl who lived in Tempe. Todd kidnapped her from her house, tied her with a rope, brought her to his place, and brutally raped her. He further threatened her with a gruesome death if she told anybody about her ordeal, but the rape was somehow reported.
Todd was apprehended by the police, and upon being interrogated, he said he had committed the crime unwillingly. It was his way of rebellion against his abusive father who was mostly absent, even when Todd lived with him. His mother came in support of her son and wrote a heartfelt letter to the probation officer, asking him to be easy on Todd, as Todd was aware of what he had done and felt guilty about it.
The charge of sexual assault was dropped, and Todd was sentenced to prison for kidnapping. He had to be registered as a sex offender and was sent to prison for 15 years. In 1987, a psychiatric exam in prison revealed that he was a man with “superior” intelligence and that his highly “antisocial” personality had caused him to become a menace.
A prison-rehabilitation program had him earning a degree in computer science while in prison. This was supposed to provide him a decent job on being released from prison in 2001, to straighten his crooked sensibilities, and to help make him a decent human being.
He was released from prison in 2001 and moved to Spartanburg soon after. In 2004, he enrolled at the ‘University of South Carolina Upstate.’ One of his teachers claims that Todd was a bright student and that she did not observe any violent streak or anything remarkable in him.
Cherry Laurens, one of Todd’s best friends from the university years, once said that Todd seemed like a decent person and that she found it difficult to believe he could ever commit the heinous crimes he was convicted of later.
In 2006, he became a certified real-estate agent. Prior to that, he had worked as a graphic designer for a while. He bought a home near Moore, and with his above-average intellect and sharp presence of mind, he managed to establish a good real-estate business.
Many of Todd’s friends from those days claim that he was a very hard-working man. They claim that although there was something creepy about him, they had not paid enough attention to it and did not think it was serious enough for them to end their respective friendships with Todd.
On November 3, 2016, a young woman named Kala Brown was found by the police on Todd’s property. Kala was found “chained like a dog” but was alive. Todd was arrested immediately. A few days later, Kala’s boyfriend’s body was found in a shallow gave on Todd’s property. He had been shot multiple times.
On November 5, upon being interrogated by the police, Todd led them to a site where two more corpses were found. The victims were Johnny Coxie and his wife, Meagan McGraw–Coxie, both of whom were reported missing, back in December 2015. The couple had been shot multiple times, just like Kala’s boyfriend.
The most shocking revelation made by Todd, however, was about the string of murders that had taken place in 2003. On November 6, 2003, four people were shot to death in a motorbike shop in Chesnee. All four victims were employees of the shop and were shot multiple times.
According to authorities, Todd confessed to the crimes in front of his mother and stepfather, just after four hours of being in custody.
Trial & Conviction
In late 2016, the police went looking for Todd Kohlhepp’s connections with more homicides, when he claimed that he had killed several more people who had not been found by the police till then. Todd was charged with seven counts of murder, two counts of kidnapping, and three counts of possessing murder weapons. He was sure to get a death penalty, but a guilty plea saved him narrowly.
On May 26, 2017, he was given seven consecutive life imprisonments, and it was ensured that he would not be eligible for parole and would most probably spend his entire life behind bars.