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COLUMBIA, S.C. (CBSMiami/AP) — A woman, chained for months inside a large metal container, says her captor raped her daily and threatened her life if she tried to hurt him or run away.
“He told me as long as I served my purpose, I was safe,” Kala Brown from South Carolina told Phillip McGraw, the host of the television show “Dr. Phil.”
It was the first time she has talked publicly since her Nov. 3rd 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 who had been missing nearly a year and four people at a motorcycle shop in 2003.
Brown said she and her boyfriend had gone to Kohlhepp’s rural property Aug. 31st 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 Carver 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.”
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)