(CN) – A once well-respected South Carolina business man pleaded guilty Friday to killing seven people over a 13-year period, even as he continued running his successful real estate business.
Todd Kohlhepp pleaded guilty to seven counts of murder and a number of related charges. He was arrested last year after investigators visited his Spartanburg County property in search of a missing couple.
The officers found one half of that couple, a young woman, chained inside a shipping container on Kohlhepp’s property. She told her rescuers that she witnessed her captor killing her boyfriend, Charles David Carter. Kohlhepp later led officers to the man’s body.
Authorities said the 32-year-old Carter was the last of Kohlhepp’s seven murder victims.
Kohlhepp moved to South Carolina in 2001 shortly after 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to kidnapping in Arizona. Authorities there said the then 15-year-old forced a 14-year-old neighbor back to his home at gunpoint, tied her up and raped her.
Kohlhepp had to register on South Carolina’s sex offender registry, but told people it was a trumped up charge after a girl’s father was angry about a joyride. Kohlhepp also lied about the felony conviction so he could get his real estate license in the state.
On Friday he admitted to killing four workers at Superbike Motorsports motorcycle store in Chesnee in 2003 after the manager made him angry.
The victims were the owner, Scott Ponder, Beverly Guy, Brian Lucas, and Chris Sherbert. Guy was Ponder’s mother and worked as a bookkeeper. Lucas was a service manager, and Sherbert was a mechanic at the shop.
Kohlhepp also admitted guilt in the deaths of a husband and wife who disappeared in December 2015. The bodies of Johnny Joe Coxie and Meagan Leigh McCraw-Coxie were found on Kohlhepp’s land after his arrest.
Kohlhepp was eligible for the death penalty, but the plea deal took that off the table.
Under the terms of the plea agreement signed Friday, the 44-year-old Kohlhepp will serve seven consecutive life terms plus 60 years on kidnapping, sexual assault and other charges.
He will not be eligible for parole, and he also agreed not to appeal the sentence.