Todd Kohlhepp, of South Carolina, allegedly chained a woman up and kept her in a metal container on his property for two months. Two other bodies were later found. If convicted, it means Kohlhepp is indeed a serial killer, but how did he get away with so many murders for so long?
USA Today reports that experts stated that most serial killers can blend in well with society and often pause their criminal activities for months and even years. They also tend to kill only one person, sometimes two people, at the same time, which differentiates them from mass murderers.
Yet, evidence also points to Kohlhepp being a mass murderer. Kohlhepp told police that he was responsible for murdering four people in 2003 at Superbike Motorsports in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Dr. Eric Hickey, a criminologist who’s studied serial killers for a little over three decades stated that it was extremely rare to see a serial killer murder numerous people at once.
“This is one of a kind, extremely rare.”
However, similar to the majority of other serial killers, Kohlhepp didn’t really “stick out” as abnormal in his neighborhood, although some people described him as boastful. It’s the normalcy that helps these killers elude police. When finally caught, the people who know the killer are usually shocked, including family members.
According to the FBI, serial killers don’t hide away during the day and sneak out at night to kill. On the contrary, they generally have typical, legal jobs and may even be friendly and outgoing. Kohlhepp was a successful real estate agent who passed the real estate license exam in 2006.
“The majority of serial killers are not reclusive social misfits who live alone. They are not monsters and may not appear strange. Many serial killers hide in plain sight within their communities.”
Dr. Helen Morrison, an expert who’s interviewed 115 serial killers, said another problem is that these killers appear so “vanilla” that they’re usually overlooked.
“Every time I go into one of these people, I find myself saying, ‘Oh, he couldn’t possibly be a serial murderer. They seem utterly normal.”
The majority of serial killers begin showing abnormal signs during childhood, but especially during adolescence. For instance, notorious serial killer Ted Bundy started displaying odd behavior when he began peering in neighbors’ windows and stealing things frequently.
Randall Woodfield, also known as the I-5 killer, was a popular student but started displaying antisocial behavior as a teenager by exposing himself to unsuspecting girls. Woodfield’s actions were swept under the rug a few times because his high school football coach wanted to keep the “All-star Athlete” on the team.
Kohlhepp was convicted of rape when he was just 16-years-old and spent 10 years in prison for the offense. However, the signs of trouble started well before his conviction. His mother said that as a child and teen, he had a terrible anger problem and frequently broke out it fits of rage. According to Northeastern University’s Murder Accountability Project’s manager, Enzo Yaksic, Kohlhepp’s parents likely had no idea how far his rage would take him.
“His parents understood Todd to have a great deal of anger, but the full breadth of what he is capable of cannot be known until much later in life when his behavior is not consistently monitored by others.”
Most serial killers have no remorse for their victims and are often proud of their actions. A few may want to stop, but don’t know how. When caught, most fess up immediately. The FBI states that they confess for a number of reasons. They may want to brag about the people they killed, they may want a plea deal to avoid a death sentence, or they may want the ordeal to simply be over.
Todd Kohlhepp remains behind bars with no bond. He’s charged with multiple murders and several other felony offenses.
[Featured Photo by Richard Shiro/AP Images]