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Bodies found on South Carolina man’s property were buried for a year

Duncan First Baptist church members, with South Carolina State Rep. Bill Chumley, hold a prayer service on Todd Kohlhepp's property in Woodruff, S.C. on Monday.
(Richard Shiro / Associated Press)

Two bodies found on the rural property of a South Carolina man linked to five other deaths were those of a couple who had a history of panhandling and had been buried there for nearly a year, authorities said Wednesday.

One of the victims was a 25-year-old woman who appears to have died from a gunshot wound to the head and the other was her husband, a 29-year-old man who was shot in his chest, Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger said. Their families have been told the couple was killed.

“It’s bad news but also they have questions that we’re able to give them answers to. This isn’t a run-of-the-mill case. It never has been,” Clevenger said.

Authorities got a break last week when investigators searching the property discovered a woman alive and chained in a large storage container, yelling for help. Her boyfriend’s body was later found in a shallow grave on the property. That couple had disappeared about two months earlier.

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The property owner, Todd Kohlhepp, was arrested at his home in a nearby suburb. After his arrest, deputies say he confessed to killing four other people in the county at a motorcycle shop in 2003. He confessed to the cold case after they granted him several requests, including letting him speak to his mother. He also led authorities Saturday to the graves on his property.

Kohlhepp was denied bond Sunday on four murder charges in the killing of the motorcycle shop’s owner, service manager, mechanic and bookkeeper. He has chosen to represent himself. More charges are expected.

As a teen, Kohlhepp was sentenced to 14 years in prison in Arizona for binding and raping a 14-year-old neighbor at gunpoint. Released in 2001, he managed to obtain a real estate license in South Carolina in 2006.

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