“Woodruff, South Carolina, where Todd Kohlhepp’s residence is, Anderson, where Kala Brown and Charles Carver come from, Spartanburg, Greenville -- these are typical small Southern towns … home to high school football and Sunday dinners after church,” said Michael Burns, a reporter for the Greenville News.
They are not, he says, places known as stomping grounds for serial killers.
“It’s left the community frustrated, confused, angry, and more than anything, I think, scared,” said Burns.
This bizarre and frightening story began last Labor Day weekend when Kala Brown, 30, and her boyfriend, Charles David Carver, 32, went missing near Spartanburg, S.C.
“Charles David Carver is my son. He is my firstborn,” Joanne Shiflet told CBS News correspondent David Begnaud. “He could bring a smile to the saddest person. He loved to laugh. He loved making people laugh. He was a hard worker. He loved his little sister.”
Charlie Carver operated a printer at a local business and his father, Chuck, says he was a gentle soul.
“He never hurt anybody … he would give you the shirt off his back or the last two dollars in his pocket. That was just the guy he was,” he said.
But Charlie’s personal life was a bit complicated. He was separated from his wife, Nikki, when he moved in with Kala Brown and emotions were running hot.
“I warned her. I said, ‘Kala, you’re dealing with a married couple here,’” said Dan Herren, who once dated Kala’s mother and knows Brown well. “She’s a very close friend of mine.”
Only days after the couple was reported missing, Herren began noticing that someone was leaving cryptic messages on Facebook pages belonging to Kala and Charlie. The messages indicated the couple had gotten married, bought a house and were just fine.
“There are many theories out there … some as wild as you can imagine,” said Burns.
It was a tantalizing lead, but it soon faded and nothing was heard from the missing couple until November 3, when a chained Kala was rescued from inside the storage container on the isolated property in Woodruff, S.C., owned by a local realtor named Todd Kohlhepp.
“I … got a text message from another good friend of mine and she said, ‘Have you heard news about Kala,’ and that’s when my stomach just sank and I said, ‘Oh, my gosh’” Herren said. “…and I texted her right back and I said, ‘What is it?’ And she said, ‘They found Kala --she’s alive.”
“I got there in six minutes, was 25 minutes away and got there in six,” said Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright.
The sheriff and his deputies were nearly overwhelmed by what they found.
“This was a shipping container, and a cage inside? What type?” Begnaud asked Wright.
“Yes, like a shark cage that you would put underwater,” he replied.
“When they opened the door, she was inside the cage?” Begnaud asked.
“Yes,” said Wright.
“Chained? Bound?” Begnaud pressed.
“She was bound,” Wright replied. “ …there was a chain from the top of the cage to something else that went around her neck. … She was distraught, panicked.”
Brown knew Todd Kohlhepp and had done some cleaning for his real estate business. Her boyfriend, Charlie, accompanied her to Kohlhepp’s secluded property just before the couple went missing.
“What did Kala tell your deputies about what happened to Mr. Carver?” Begnaud asked the sheriff.
“She says she witnessed him being shot,” said Wright.
“I asked her before she got in the ambulance if I could pray with her, she said, ‘Yes.’ I … said a prayer of thanksgiving,” the sheriff said.
As Kala Brown was being rescued, deputies arrested Kohlhepp at his nearby home. Brown was reunited with her mother and Dan Herren, and began to share details about her nightmare.
“She goes, ‘I was locked up in this metal container … he had chains around my neck and I was in dark almost the entire time,’” Herren said. “Todd would take her outta there from time to time to let her at least kind of walk around, see some daylight.”
“Did Kala say if Todd fed her?” Begnaud asked.
“Yeah. She said that he fed her once a day,” Herren replied.
“Did she say whether she was physically or sexually abused?”
“No, she didn’t,” said Herren.
“Did you ask?” Begnaud asked.
“No,” Herren said. “There are some questions you don’t wanna ask, and maybe even you don’t even wanna know the answer to.”
Brown told Herren escaping was impossible.
“Her words were, ‘And then Todd dragged me over to -- somewhere on the property where he showed me three graves that had to be -- or that appeared to be people buried in them,’” he said. “And Todd said to her, ‘Kala, if you try to escape you’re going directly into one of those graves.’”
Kohlhepp said he was willing to talk, but asked if the sheriff could accommodate what were essentially three wishes.
“He asked me to do a few things. He said, ‘Would you please take a special picture to my mom,’ and I said, ‘Yes, be happy to.’ He said, ‘Can you allow me to transfer some money to help a young girl, daughter of a great friend of mine to help her for college,’ and I said, ‘No problem,’” Wright told Begnaud.
“And he said, ‘Can I talk to my mom before anything starts to being said,’ and I said, ‘That’s fine.’”
Kohlhepp wanted his mother, Regina Tague, to hear what had happened from him. She wanted to tell “48 Hours” about her son.
“I want to say something to the people who have been hurt. I want the world to know that he’s not a bad person. He’s a good person,” she told Begnaud.
Kohlhepp shared details of his alleged crimes with his mom.
“Why did he chain that girl up?” Begnaud asked Tague.
“Because he didn’t know what to do at that point,” she replied.
“She saw, evidently, him kill her boyfriend … and he didn’t know what to do with her, he couldn’t turn her loose. She’d go get the police,” said Tague.
“So he chained her up,” said Begnaud.
“Mmmhmm,” Tague affirmed. “He tried to make her as comfortable as possible. Get her food. He had a dilemma.”
Asked if Kohlhepp abused Kala Brown, Tague said, “No, he said he did not. He promised me. And believe me, he woulda told me.”
“What did he do to take care of her?” Begnaud asked.
“He brought her food and water and drinks. He brought her something to lay on. And we didn’t go into great detail, except that I -- I can’t imagine her bein’ in there for two months,” an emotional Tague said. “I want her to know how sorry I am. And I think Todd is, too. Because he didn’t wanna hurt her, he just didn’t know what to do.”
“Why did he kill her boyfriend?” Begnaud asked.
“Because he got nasty, and got smart-mouthed. And Todd had hired him to -- to do some stuff, and Todd pays well. And the guy got mouthy about it, and from what I gathered, he said some smart things to Todd. And I guess Todd shot him,” said Tague.
“Is that how your son handles his anger? He just killed people when they mistreated him?” Begnaud asked.
“Never before,” said Tague.
The investigation is ongoing and details about abuse and exactly what happened to Brown in captivity have not been released. It seems almost surreal at this point, but just a few weeks ago Todd Kohlhepp was considered a success.
“He did his job super good,” Sheriff Wright said of Kohlhepp. “I just met him around town, did his job well, he was a good realtor.”
“You wanted to buy a house, is he someone you would have called?” Begnaud asked.
“Heck, yeah. I would, he knew his stuff, very smart,” said Wright.
Kohlhepp was not married, lived in a nice home, and owned the 100-acre property where Kala Brown was found. He drove a BMW and had a pilot’s license.
Kohlhepp began to talk without a lawyer being present. He confessed that three bodies were buried on his property.
“I bring sad news to you tonight about … Charles David Carver,” Sheriff Wright told reporters. “He is deceased.”
But Kohlhepp wasn’t done confessing -- far from it. The next story he told shocked Wright to his core. Kohlhepp told of a mass murder he conducted -- an infamous cold case that Wright had been trying to solve for 13 long years. But was Kohlhepp telling the truth or just giving the sheriff something he wanted to hear?
THE SUPERBIKE MOTORSPORTS MURDERS
It is one of the most notorious murder mysteries in South Carolina’s history: four people shot execution-style at Superbike Motorsports in Chesnee. The brutal crime that baffled police now being claimed by Todd Kohlhepp. But back in the day, investigators had a very different suspect in mind.
“It’s still sometimes hard for me to believe that this is my story, this is my late husband’s story, that this is us sitting here talking about it,” said Melissa Ponder.
It all began one cold November morning in 2003. Ponder was seven weeks pregnant and still asleep when her husband, Scott, left for work at the Motorsports dealership, their family business. Hours later, he would call to check in.
“What were the last words he said to you?” “48 Hours” correspondent Peter Van Sant asked Ponder.
“’OK, I will see you later. I love you. Bye,’” she said.
Sometime after 2 p.m., Scott Ponder, his mother, Beverly, his service manager and close friend, Brian Lucas, and his mechanic, Chris Sherbert, were all hard at work at the bike shop when someone gunned them down.
Four murders committed in a matter of seconds, ending, for Ponder, a picture-perfect marriage.
“What is it about Scott Ponder that you fell in love with?” Van Sant asked Melissa.
“I felt like he was genuine … He had a side to him that was spontaneous,” she said. “I was happy, I was pregnant -- sicker than a dog, but I was so excited about it.”
“He was able to go to my first ultrasound on Tuesday and was murdered on Thursday,” she continued.
Terry Guy was Scott’s stepfather. He lost his son and his wife.
“You wake up one mornin’, kiss your wife good mornin’, tell her you love her, and go to work. And you just take it for granted you’re gonna see her that afternoon,” Guy said. “Just a split second your whole world’s just turned completely upside down.”
Lorraine and Tom Lucas lost their son, Brian.
“I was real proud of him,” Tom Lucas said. “He was just a good, solid guy. And anybody that needed help and they asked him, he would do it.”
“He had two children, he had two sons. He was a wonderful father,” Lorraine Lucas said. “And I have heard from people that they say he was the best mechanic around.”
Early on in the investigation, a witness reported seeing a man in the bike shop not long before the murders.
“And to the best of your recollection, you’ve never seen this face,” Van Sant asked Ponder of the police sketch. “No,” she replied.
Police thought it was strange that nothing had been taken from the bike shop. This was not a robbery gone bad, so police did what they always do.
“He was killed on Thursday, they full-on questioned me on Sunday,” said Ponder.
What they wanted was to know everything about her relationship with her husband, Scott.
“I gave them any cards and love letters that we had sent back and forth. I mean, they -- they saw it all,” Ponder told Van Sant.
But that wasn’t enough.
“I was polygraphed,” she said. “And I was asked the very serious questions of, ‘Did you kill your husband, Scott Ponder?’ ‘Did you plan the murder of your husband, Scott Ponder?’”
“And your answers were always—” Van Sant said as Ponder replied, “Oh, absolutely not, no. No.”
Seven months later, she gave birth to a son.
“That birth overshadowed any type of … sadness that I had felt through this. I got to hold a piece of him again. I had his flesh and blood with me,” Ponder said.
She named him Scotty, after his father.
“So how long after the birth did -- did the police come back?” Van Sant asked.
“My son was six months old. And I get a phone call one day … ‘We need you to come down to the dealership. Don’t bring the baby with you. We need to talk to you,’” Ponder replied.
What Melissa didn’t know, is that police had gotten an anonymous tip that Scott was sterile. Police suspected she was having an affair and wanted Scott out of the picture.
“They proceeded to tell me that, ‘We took a diaper that you threw away here a couple weeks ago and sent it off to have a DNA test done,’” she said. “’Well the problem is it doesn’t match up with your husband’s DNA.’”
“Scotty … your 6-month-old son, his DNA doesn’t match Scott, your husband?” Van Sant asked Melissa.
“Correct. …I immediately said, ‘No way.’ I said, ‘No way. … there’s no way that this is not my husband’s baby. There’s no way.’ And so I said, ‘I’m going to get my baby. … You will swab his mouth in front of me. I will watch you put it in that envelope,” she explained. “I was just, ‘No. No.’”
Ponder returned with the baby determined to prove she never cheated on Scott, and had no reason to want him dead.
“The notion is -- a potential love triangle,” said Van Sant.
“For sure,” said Ponder.
“And a love triangle can create a motive for murder,” Van Sant continued.
“Correct,” said Ponder.
“And they’re wondering if you did the killing or if someone you know did the killing,” said Van Sant.
“Right,” she said.
Melissa Ponder was sure the second DNA test would prove Scott was the father. But it didn’t.
“He said, ‘Melissa, we now have two DNA tests that show Scott Ponder is not the father of your baby. We need you to come clean. And we need you to tell us who the father is,’” she explained. “And I said …’You’re trying to pin something on me that has nothing to do with me. This is his baby. …And I will have his body exhumed right now.’”
That never happened. Police soon admitted that they got it wrong. The vile of blood they were testing against the baby’s DNA was mislabeled and wasn’t actually Scott’s. It belonged to Scott’s employee, Brian Lucas. Ponder was cleared, but it was too late -- the damage was done.
“The rumors ran rampant out there during this time,” she said.
“I cannot tell you the things that have been said about me. I know that Scott’s grandmother, who I thought I was close to, died … believing that that was not her own grandson,” Ponder continued.
Ponder’s life hit rock bottom: her husband murdered, the family business shut down, and her reputation was a casualty of country gossip. So she decided to pull up stakes and move back to Arizona.
But she wasn’t the only one trying to start over. There was another suspect -- and he was Scott’s close friend.
A SECOND SUSPECT
The fast and furious world of Superbike Motorsports was once the premiere pit stop for high-octane thrill seekers.
“Anytime I was off work, I would go up there. A lot of us went up there to hang out. …It was a good time, a really good time,” said Noel Lee, who was a regular at the shop.
Lee became friends with Scott Ponder and Brian Lucas.
“Definitely my closest friends. Definitely,” he told Peter Van Sant. “I would leave there -- on some days, I would say, ‘Alright, guys. Love you guys.’ …’Alright, Noel. Love you, too.’ And--you know, it was great.”
But on the afternoon of Nov. 6, 2003, Lee was about to become a key suspect in one of South Carolina’s most notorious murders.
“I pull in the shop. …And when I got outta my car, the first thing I saw was Brian. And he was layin’ on his back. And his hands were straight up with his hands folded in,” Lee said. “I saw blood in Brian’s mouth. And then the closer I got, I could see Scott layin’ underneath his mom’s car.”
It was Lee who called 911.
Noel Lee to 911: It’s at uh -- Superbike Motorsports. Apparently, everybody’s been shot up here! Everybody’s layin’ down in a pool of blood. His momma’s been shot. The mechanic’s been shot.
In the weeks following the massacre, Lee didn’t have time to grieve for his friends. Instead, he found himself under the scrutinizing eye of homicide detectives.
“They fingerprinted me. They dusted my car,” he explained. “I’d taken a lie detector test. I sat through hours and hours and hours of questioning.”
Like Melissa Ponder, Noel Lee also had to live under a cloud of suspicion.
“People would just stare … and you knew what they were thinkin’. You knew exactly what they were thinkin’,” he said. “It just made you sick to your stomach ‘cause -- you knew you had nothin’ to do with it.”
Lee was eventually cleared by police, but he is still haunted by the memories of what happened.
“I know it doesn’t look like much now, but back in 2003 this was the place to be,” he said outside of the now-shuttered bike shop. “This is supposed to be a safe place. …I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Two thousand miles away, Melissa Ponder got a phone call.
“It ended up being one of the detectives that worked on my case,” Ponder told Van Sant. “He said, ‘I’ve got to talk to you. I need you to be available to talk in an hour.’”
When Detective Anthony Lachica of the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office called back, Ponder wasn’t taking any chances.
“You guys make a decision to record this phone conversation,” Van Sant commented to Ponder.
“And I don’t know why we made that decision,” she said. “I didn’t know what was gettin’ ready to come out of their mouth.”
“You’ve been burned before,” Van Sant noted.
“I have,” Melissa affirmed.
Ponder played the recording for Van Sant:
Det. Lachica: Melissa?
Melissa Ponder: Yes.
Det. Lachica: Can you do me a favor?
Melissa Ponder: Yeah.
Det. Lachica. Sit down.
Melissa Ponder: OK.
Det. Lachica: We just got a guy who confessed to the Superbike killings. [Crying] And he gave us details from everything. We made an arrest.
Melissa Ponder: Are you kidding?[Crying]
Det. Lachica: No.
Melissa Ponder: Who is he?
Det. Lachica: His -- his name’s Todd Kohlhepp.
The detective told Melissa that Kohlhepp admitted to firing a single bullet into the forehead of each of his victims – a fact never released to the public and something only the killer would know.
“After all those years, you are finally told who murdered your husband,” Van Sant noted to Ponder.
“Right. And it’s somebody that didn’t even ring a bell with me. Never even heard of the guy,” she said.
“I want to show you now the picture of the suspect, Todd Kohlhepp. And I want you to take a look at that and compare it to the original composite. Do you see any similarities?” Van Sant asked Ponder.
“I see the mouth is the exact same -- this mouth is curved, a downward U. It’s the same here,” she said looking at the images. “I can see some similarities for sure.”
In fact, police knew the name Todd Kohlhepp for years. It had been on a customer list at the bike shop.
“There was no reason to interview everybody. There was nothing in this guy’s background that said, ‘I did this,’” said Sheriff Wright.
But that infuriates Scott’s stepfather, Terry Guy.
“There was a lotta mistakes done. And, you know, the sad part about it is, you know, had they thoroughly checked every person on it … they might’ve helped however many people this gentleman’s killed in the last 13 years,” he said.
Days after his arrest, Todd Kohlhepp was formally charged with the Superbike homicides. And for the first time, Tom and Lorraine Lucas came face to face with their son’s killer.
“I was expecting probably to see somebody that had tattoos, and earrings, and, you know, just mean looking, and so forth. And … I was just -- just staring at him, thinking, ‘I just don’t get it,’” said Tom Lucas.
“I’ve accepted that it’s him. I’m sure it’s him,” Lorraine Lucas said. “I have the who, but I don’t have the why.”
But someone who does know why is Kohlhepp’s mother.
“I asked him if he did it,” Regina Tague told “48 Hours.” “He told me yeah, he did. And I said, ‘Why?’ Because he had always wanted a motorbike. …He didn’t know how to ride it. And they made fun of him. …And they laughed at him. Made jokes at him. …And he was hurt.”
He lashed out … and it wasn’t the first time.
INSIDE THE MIND OF TODD KOHLHEPP
Before there was Todd Kohlhepp, the man now sitting in jail for multiple murders, there was Todd Kohlhepp, the boy -- even then, says clinical police and forensic psychologist Kris Mohandie, a serial killer in the making.
“Psychopaths do not just arrive as adults. They demonstrate behavior in their childhoods and especially in their teen years. And he showed all of that,” said Mohandie, who is a CBS News consultant.
After reviewing court documents, Mohandie says Todd Kohlhepp was troubled from the age of 15 months.
In nursery school, according to the documents, Todd hit other kids and destroyed their projects. He’s also said to have shot a dog with a BB gun and used bleach to kill a goldfish because he wanted a gerbil instead.
“As a young child he was already out of control, already into gratifying his power and dominance needs, already comfortable hurting other people,” said Mohandie.
Conflicted and loyal, Kohlhepp’s mother remembers a smart boy who liked to read the encyclopedia and sit on her lap while she read the funny papers to him.
“And he would laugh and he would get tickled. And he learned,” she said.
But theirs was not a happy home. Tague divorced Todd’s father when Todd, an only child, was 2. She remarried the following year. According to later psychological reports, Todd did not get along with his stepfather and grew increasingly hostile and abusive.
“What were the problems you had with him as a child?” Begnaud asked.
“If he didn’t like something I did, he’d find a way to get back at me,” Tague replied. “One time I did something and he didn’t like it … And he … stuffed all the bath towels down the commode and stopped it up, and flooded the house.”
“Was he becoming unmanageable?” Begnaud asked Tague.
“Difficult,” she replied.
“To where you couldn’t control him?” Begnaud asked.
“I got tired of controlling it. I knew something was wrong inside,” said Tague.
Tague put Todd in therapy, but he only got angrier. She remembers reaching her breaking point when Todd was about 12. She had just bought him a new bedroom set.
“And the next day, I came home from work … And he had taken a claw hammer to all his new furniture,” said Tague.
“He destroyed everything you just bought him,” said Begnaud.
“Uh-huh,” Tague affirmed.
“He was that angry at something,” Begnaud noted.
“That I wouldn’t let him go to Arizona,” Tague explained.
Todd had been wanting to go live with his biological father in Tempe. Tague -- at her wits end -- says she finally let him go, hoping a male figure would straighten him out. His disturbing, angry behavior only got worse.
“What you’re talking about is a budding psychopath with anti-social personality characteristics -- narcissism,” Mohandie explained. “…he was impulsive … his needs and wants -- were more important than everybody else’s.”
An Arizona neighbor described Todd Kohlhepp as a devil on a chain. He actually locked her son in a dog kennel and rolled it around, then banged his head against clay pipes. While her son cried, Kohlhepp laughed.
On Nov. 25, 1986, Kohlhepp crossed the line. A young Tempe police officer, Betsy Cable, got a frantic call from a young boy; his 14-year-old sister had disappeared.
“While I was talking to the kids, tryin’ to get some more information -- the victim, who walked in through her back door-- was clearly shaken and said, ‘I need to talk to you,’” said Cable.
The young girl started telling the officer her horrific story -- one that began with a door knock. It was her schoolmate and neighbor, 15-year-old Todd Kohlhepp. He lured her outside.
“So once he got her out in the alley he put a gun to her head and he walked her back down around this direction to his home,” Cable said outside of the home. “And while he was walking, he actually pulled the trigger and – it -- the gun misfired.”
They got to Todd’s home. His father was out. Todd forced the girl into his bedroom, tied her hands with rope and covered her mouth with duct tape. He placed a knife next to her.
“And he raped her. That’s the bottom line,” said Cable.
At that point, Officer Cable called for backup, then approached Todd’s house. At first he wouldn’t open the door. When he did, he had a rifle in his hand.
“He asked me two questions. One was, ‘What’s gonna happen to me?’ The other question was, ‘How much am I gonna get?’” said Cable.
Todd Kohlhepp, charged as an adult, pleaded guilty to kidnapping in exchange for getting the sexual assault charge dropped. The troubled teen spent the next 14 years behind bars. After his release he returned home to South Carolina and started a new life.
“I set everything up so that he could be a productive part of our city, and that he could enjoy the rest of his life and do what he loved doing,” Tague said.
“You never gave up on him,” Begnaud noted.
“No. You don’t give up on your kids. You don’t do that. You can’t,” said Tague.
By all appearances, Todd Kohlhepp seemed to be getting his life together. But beneath the facade lay the sinister predator of the past.
“As an adult, Mr. Kohlhepp learned he’d better conceal who he really is,” said Mohandie.
“These psychopaths are good at conning others and playing roles and theatricality,” he continued. “They’re not only fooling victims that they’re able to gratify their darkest impulses with, but they’re also pulling one over on society as well as authorities. And they like that.”
But nine days ago, the ugly face of Todd Kohlhepp emerged for all the world to see.
“I wonder what a mother says to a son after he tells her, ‘I killed seven people,’” Begnaud mused.
“’Oh, my God.’ That’s what she says. And she experiences hurt that she’s never experienced in her life,” said Mohandie.
One man, seven victims, and an endless amount of heart break.
“What do you wanna say to the families?” Begnaud asked Tague.
“That I know how bad they’ve hurt all this time. And they’ve all lost someone they love so dearly. And I am so sorry that it was my son that hurt them,” she said.
THE INVESTIGATION CONTINUES
Just three days ago, two more families learned the fate of their missing loved ones after Todd Kohlhepp’s confession to police.
Meagan, 25, and Johnny, 29, had vanished almost a year ago.
“I just want to know why. I want to know why. Why did he do this?” Mary McCraw asked.
“I just don’t want my daughter to be a statistic. I want her to be remembered always,” said Robert McCraw.
Meagan and Johnny had been hired by Kohlhepp to do some work on his property.
“Your son is the definition of what’s known as a serial killer,” Begnaud pointed out.
“I hate that,” Tague said, choking up.
With seven bodies finally accounted for, the question on everyone’s mind is, are there more out there?
“I don’t know. I do not know,” said Sheriff Chuck Wright.
“Is there anyone else that Todd may have killed that we don’t know about?” Begnaud asked Tague.
“No, because I asked … ‘Todd, tell me now. Is there anyone else out there?’” she said. “He says, ‘Not from me, Mama.’”
But when police called to tell Melissa Ponder about Kohlhepp’s arrest and connection to her husband’s murder at Superbike Motorsports, she was told that Kohlhepp had confessed to at least one more shooting:
PHONE CALL RECORDED BY MELISSA PONDER:
Det. Anthony Lachica: He admitted to shooting somebody in Arizona.
Melissa Ponder: Oh, my gosh.
For now, police have suspended their search of Kohlhepp’s property to focus on building their case in order to charge Kohlhepp in the murders of Charlie Carver, and Meagan and Johnny Coxie.
“We wanna make sure all the evidence is handled properly,” said Wright.
Among the evidence is a cache of guns found in Kohlhepp’s home. An investigation is underway to determine how a sex offender was able to amass what police are calling an arsenal.
“Enough to have a hell of a showdown if he wanted?” Begnaud asked.
“He had good taste in weaponry,” Wright replied.
While investigators believe Kohlhepp’s confessions are true, they are looking at every angle of this case.
“Did investigators determine that Kohlhepp acted alone?” Begnaud asked.
“We don’t know any of that yet,” Wright said. “…but we’re not gonna close a door.”
In a strange development this week, Charles Carver’s estranged wife, Nichole, was arrested on charges of impersonating a law enforcement officer in an attempt to find out where his phone had last been used.
Carver was released on a $2,500 bond. Police are still trying to determine whether she is connected to Kohlhepp.
“Sheriff, do you think she may have been more involved than she’s telling?” Begnaud asked.
“If she is, my friend, I’m happy to go put handcuffs on her,” he replied.
This investigation is far from over. Exact details about the relationships and lives of Kala Brown, Charlie Carver and Todd Kohlhepp are still unknown.
Meanwhile, Regina Tague says her son is ready to face judgment.
“Does he have an attorney?” Begnaud asked.
“He wants someone who will keep him off of death row,” said Tague.
“Do you think he’ll plead guilty or not guilty?”
“He’ll plead guilty. Because he knows he did it,” Tague told Begnaud.
Chuck Carver and his wife, Julie, are having a hard time letting go of their son, Charlie. They’ve repeatedly left flowers at the property where his body was buried.
“It just seems like it’s not real. Everything that’s happened,” Julie Carver said through tears.
“I just keep waitin’ for him to walk out of the woods. With a smile. ‘Cause he always smiled,” said Chuck Carver.
Back in Arizona, Melissa Ponder and her son, Scotty, now know the truth.
“My mom would always explain to me how he just -- he was gone. He was in heaven, in a better place,” said Scotty Ponder.
And despite all that Scotty was denied in life by Kohlhepp’s crime, he doesn’t want his father’s killer to one day be executed.
“I hope he’ll be in jail for the rest of his life than die. I just don’t want any more people to die,” he said.
As for Todd Kohlhepp’s mother, she says she wishes there was something she could do to alleviate all the pain.
“There’s nothing I can do about it. I can’t change it. I wish to God I could. For them as much as me and Todd,” Tague said. “Everybody’s hurt. He hurt everybody.”
Todd Kohlhepp now has a public defender. Kohlhepp’s next court appearance is in January.
Kala Brown continues her recovery and is staying with friends.
Charlie Carver will be buried next Saturday on his birthday. He would have been 33.