The Upstate of South Carolina is in the national spotlight and it’s not for good reasons. Todd Kohlhepp is a local real estate broker/agent in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Todd has been arrested for kidnapping Kala Brown. This is just one charge among the laundry list of other charges that have been brought to life since his arrest.
Kala Brown and her boyfriend, Charlie Carver have been missing since August 31, 2016. According to Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright, “a sex crime investigator led them to the 95 acre property owned by Koelhepp Thursday morning.” When deputies arrived on the 95 acre property, they heard a banging noise coming from a metal storage container. The deputies opened the container to find Kala Brown chained up like a dog. Sheriff Wright said, that “she had a chain around her neck. The metal container was about 30 feet long, 15 feet wide by about 10-12 feet high.” Wright was informed by Kala, “that there might be more bodies on the property.” Kala was taken to Spartanburg Regional Hospital where she was checked out and released Thursday night.
Charlie Carver’s car was found on the property Thursday afternoon. On Friday morning cadaver dogs signaled that there were possible human remains on the property. Friday afternoon a body was found. The body was later identified as Charlie Carver Saturday night. It was reported that he was shot multiple times.
Since Saturday, Kohlhepp has confessed to the 2003 quadruple murder that took place at Superbike motorsports in Chesnee. He’s also informed the Sheriff of grave sights that still remain on his property. Authorities found a second and third body on the property Sunday. DHS and the FBI have now joined the investigation. Sheriff Chuck Wright stated, “other properties owned or previously owned by Kohlhepp are being investigated also.”
Koelhepp’s past has also been brought to life since his arrest over the weekend. My questions is, “how was he able to practice real estate with a criminal background such as his?” It wasn’t made mandatory, until June 9, 2014 (SECTION 40-57-115), to have a criminal background check performed before receiving a real estate license. Below is verbatim from REC Licensing FAQ on http://www.llr.state.sc.us/pol/rec/ webpage,
“I have a criminal conviction. Can I get a South Carolina real estate license? A criminal record does not in itself prevent you from being able to be licensed. Certain convictions are grounds for denial of licensure and will require that you appear before the Commission for an Application Hearing. You must complete pre-licensing requirements and submit an application for examination or licensure before a determination can be made as to whether your licensure can be approved by the Administrator, or if it will require an appearance before the Commission for a hearing.”
In 2006 Kohlhepp wrote a letter to the real estate commission explaining his incarceration and what he did during that time to make himself out to be a better citizen. Except there was one major problem with his story, he lied about why he was arrested. The story was fabricated to say the least. The real estate commission read his story and I guess felt it was acceptable because Todd Kohlhepp received his real estate license in 2006. His crime, dating back to July 24, 1987 can be read here.
I’m truly grateful that Kala was found alive and pray for her recovery. I grieve for the family of Charlie Carver and hope the families of the Superbike Motorsports murders now have some closure.
In an industry plagued by negative publicity and distrust, this incident ads fuel to the fire. What’s sad about this industry is there are agents right now thinking of ways to get in contact with the listings that were under listing agreements with Kohlhepp to get business. It’s why this industry has a bad reputation.
How many other agents do we have out there with a criminal record? It is my sincere hope that the Real Estate Commission and SCLLR make it mandatory for ALL real estate agents to submit a criminal background check. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in the business for 5 years or 35 years. This should no longer be required of NEW agents but of every agent in the industry.