COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina woman who spent two months chained inside a large metal container says her captor raped her daily and warned that if she ran or tried to hurt him, she would die.
“He told me as long as I served my purpose, I was safe,” Kala Brown told Phillip McGraw, the host of the television show “Dr. Phil.”
It was the first time she has talked publicly since her Nov. 3 rescue, which authorities say helped them solve seven slayings in the area dating back 13 years. Police said Todd Kohlhepp, a real estate agent with his own firm until his arrest, killed Brown’s boyfriend, a couple missing who had been missing about two years and four people at a motorcycle shop in 2003.
Brown said she and her boyfriend had gone to Kohlhepp’s rural property Aug. 31 to help him clear some underbrush from trails. After the couple followed him to a two-story garage on the 95-acre property, Kohlhepp handed them hedge clippers and bottles of water. He said he needed to get something inside and came out a few minutes later shooting, Brown said.
He shot Charles Carver three times in the chest, she said. He gagged Brown and handcuffed her ankles and wrists. Kohlhepp took her to a “pitch black,” 30-foot-long storage container nearby, chained her by the neck in a back corner and raped her, she said.
He “let me know that if I tried to run, he’d kill me. If I tried to hurt him, he’d kill me. If I fought back, he would kill me. And then he raped me,” Brown said in episodes that aired this week. “He would rape me twice a day, every day.”
Kohlhepp, 45, faces murder, kidnapping and weapon charges. He is not charged with sexual assault. Spokesmen for the sheriff and prosecutor declined to address the rape allegations or whether more charges are forthcoming. His attorney did not return messages.
Police said Kohlhepp acknowledged the grisly cold cases after authorities granted him several requests, including letting him speak to his mother.
The Associated Press normally does not identify victims of sexual assault but is naming Brown after she publicly identified herself.
The day after her rescue, investigators found Carver’s body in a shallow grave on Kohlhepp’s property. Brought to the site in handcuffs, Kohlhepp showed authorities the graves of the couple missing since December 2015.
Brown, who had previously cleaned several of Kohlhepp’s properties, said he made sure only Carter accompanied her to his land, telling her “he didn’t want anyone else knowing where he lived.”
Nothing seemed awry over the several months she periodically worked for Kohlhepp, she said: “He was nice, polite, just a regular businessman. … No red flags.”
Brown said Kohlhepp told her he killed Carver because “it was easier to control someone if you took someone they loved.”
She thought Kohlhepp was infatuated with her and didn’t want to kill her, even saying he would let her go and give her money “if he ever got old and sick,” she said. He explained Stockholm syndrome, in which a hostage starts feeling sympathetic toward their captor, and said “it would kick in and we’d be happy together.”
She remained tied up, even when he took her to the garage apartment to eat, she said.
When Brown heard people talking outside the container the morning of Nov. 3, she panicked, thinking maybe he had brought someone else. When she realized help had come, “I started screaming and hitting the walls,” she said.
“I knew my family would never stop looking, but he was so careful, I couldn’t see how I could be found so soon. I was scared it really wasn’t happening,” she said. “And when they finally got the door open and I saw the police uniforms, I was relieved.”
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