Newly released records from the Arizona Department of Corrections reveal details about alleged South Carolina killer Todd Kohlhepp’s criminal history, which stretches back to the time he was arrested for rape at only 15 years old.
Kohlhepp was arrested last year after police discovered a woman chained up “like a dog” inside a storage container on his 95-acre property in Spartanburg County, South Carolina.
The victim, Kala Brown, told police that other missing people may be on the property — and, after a massive manhunt, investigators discovered three more bodies, including Brown’s boyfriend. Since then, Kohlhepp has also confessed to a quadruple-shooting murder at a motorsports shop in South Carolina more than a decade ago. He is now suspected in the deaths of up to seven people.
But Kohlhepp’s life of crime started early.
According to court documents, Kohlhepp’s mother sent him to the Phoenix area to live with his father in 1985 while she “worked on herself.” He ended up serving 14 years in an Arizona prison after being accused of raping a 14-year-old Tempe girl when he was only 15.
Kohlhepp allegedly held a .22-caliber handgun to the teen’s head and forced her to go back to his house, police records showed. He then restrained his victim and put duct tape over her mouth before raping her, according to police and court records.
When the police arrived at Kohlhepp’s residence, he asked, “How much time am I going to get for this?” before confessing to the rape and kidnapping.
According to records on the Arizona Department of Corrections website, Kohlhepp was admitted into prison on October 29, 1987, and was released on November 24, 2001. The 307-page prison record was released after a public-information request by The Arizona Republic, but had several pages blacked out. The information provided showed that in his first years inside, Kohlhepp fought with other inmates, disrespected guards, and worked multiple jobs.
But he also impressed some people: Kohlhepp received a “Role Model” certificate and was commended for his good work as a dishwasher. He also earned a certificate in microcomputer operating and a certificate in microcomputer applied specialties from Central Arizona College, according to the record.
He listed these factors when asking for a commutation of his sentence three years after he was admitted to prison. In his letter, Kohlhepp wrote that he hoped to become a “productive and responsible member of society.” His request to commute the sentence was denied, and Kohlhepp’s record also shows several disciplinary actions against him.
In March 1991, Kohlhepp “thumbed his finger” at a guard while a group of nearby inmates laughed. Later that year, Kohlhepp was caught running away from the yard, and a lockdown was put in place. Additional details on the incident were heavily redacted, as was the extent of disciplinary actions.
In 1993, he was accused of attempting to steal a screwdriver from another inmate, and also allegedly stole other prison property.
The majority of his violations were “minor” except for one “major” violation for striking a person, said Andrew Wilder, DOC spokesman.
During his time behind bars, Kohlhepp wrote multiple letters appealing the denial of some of his reading materials, including Maxim magazine and a knife catalog.
Kohlhepp is awaiting trial in South Carolina on the murders there, and he could face the death penalty.
Main photo: Todd Kohlhepp [Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office]