Survivor of Suspected Serial Killer Opens Up About Horrific Captivity: 'I Was Numb, I Couldn't Think'
Kala Brown claimed for the first time on Monday, in a wrenching interview on Dr. Phil, that she allegedly witnessed her boyfriend's murder
Authorities say Kala Brown was abducted and held captive for more than two months before being rescued in November from a suspected serial killer. But she publicly alleged for the first time on Monday, in a wrenching interview on Dr. Phil, that she also witnessed her boyfriend’s murder before she was taken prisoner and raped.
Speaking to host Phil McGraw in her first media appearance since she was freed, Brown provided the clearest description yet of her suffering — allegedly at the hands of Todd Kohlhepp — and how she survived.
“I always feel like I should have known better,” she said, “but there was really no way I could’ve.”
Brown was found chained “like a dog” in a storage container on Kohlhepp’s property in South Carolina on Nov. 3, and Kohlhepp was arrested soon after, according to authorities. Three dead bodies were recovered on his nearly 100-acre lot, and investigators say he has confessed to a quadruple murder in 2003.
Brown said Monday on Dr. Phil, however, that she had no idea what she was walking into on Aug. 31. That was the day she and her boyfriend, Charlie Carver, went missing.
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An Odd Job Goes Wrong
Brown told McGraw that she had been Facebook friends with Kohlhepp “for years,” but she connected with him in 2016 after he asked her to clean houses for him. (Kohlhepp worked as a real estate agent before his arrest.)
Brown said she worked four or five of these jobs for Kohlhepp over a roughly three-month period, always bringing Carver along to help, and that nothing about the situation spooked her.
“[Kohlhepp] was nice, polite, a regular businessman,” she said. “Nothing inappropriate or anything like that.”
On what would be the last job, though, things were different, Brown said: Kohlhepp insisted on driving them to the property himself — as, this time, it was his personal property.
Once they arrived, Brown said Kohlhepp had to unlock the gate by the road before letting them drive in. He also locked the gate back, she said — locking them inside.
But she didn’t find it strange at the time, she told McGraw, thinking maybe there were animals around.
Brown said Kohlhepp brought her and Carver to a large two-story garage about three-quarters of a mile into his property. He gave them bottles of water and hedge clippers, she said, and he told them he would show them to a trail where he needed underbrush cleared. Then, as Brown and Carver walked outside, Kohlhepp told them he had to go get something, she said.
He returned with a gun, Brown alleged on Dr. Phil.
“We were standing there [outside by the garage], and I look up and I didn’t realize what was going on at the time,” Brown claimed. “He walked out and he had the gun in his hand, and he pretty much shot Charlie before he ever even made it completely out the door.
“And I just — I got lost, I didn’t know what was going on, I didn’t know what to do. I just stood there.”
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Brown said the experience of witnessing her boyfriend’s death left her “numb” and stunned.
She claimed that Kohlhepp fired at Carver three times, rapidly, hitting him in the chest. “He was completely calm … It was like nothing out of the way had even happened,” Brown said.
Kohlhepp then grabbed her, almost in a headlock, and took her back inside where he gagged her and cuffed her at her wrists and ankles, she alleged.
“He was prepared,” Brown said. Kohlhepp told her that if she didn’t cooperate he would also kill her, she alleged.
“I was numb, I couldn’t think,” she said. “I still hadn’t comprehended what happened.” (McGraw told her that compliance in that moment likely saved her life.)
Then Kohlhepp allegedly forced her into a nearby storage container — which was “pitch black” and sweltering in the heat — and chained her at the neck. He left her alone for what “seemed like an eternity,” she told McGraw, but it could have been only a few hours.
When Kohlhepp returned, “he talked about some stuff,” Brown said. She alleged he told her 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.”
(Kohlhepp has not been charged with Brown’s sexual assault, according to court records, though he has been charged with kidnapping and seven counts of murder. It remains unclear if he has pleaded to those charges.)
Brown said on Dr. Phil that she believes Kohlhepp planned her abduction precisely — even arranging for that final “job” in such a way that Carver would be with her so he could be killed.
“He [told me] it was easier to control someone if you took someone they loved,” Brown said.
She said she still struggles to process Carver’s death, months after her captivity. In her mind, she said, she apologizes a lot to him: “He was there with me, and I’m sorry about that.”
Had he not been killed, Brown said she and Carver planned to marry.
“Charlie was just a wonderful person,” she said. “He’s one of the best people in general I’ve ever met. He lived his life to make others smile. If Charlie couldn’t make somebody smile his day wasn’t complete. He was always joking around and laughing and he was just a very, very special man.”
Part two of Brown’s Dr. Phil interview airs Tuesday. Check local listings.