SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Federal agents want to know how a convicted felon who became a serial killer in South Carolina managed to collect an arsenal of weapons.
Todd Kohlhepp was arrested last fall after deputies rescued a missing woman chained up inside a shipping container on his rural property. In exchange for a life sentence, he ultimately pleaded guilty to killing seven people as well as kidnapping and raping the woman.
Agents with the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are investigating a trove of weapons on his properties, including dozens of guns and pallets full of ammunition, The Herald-Journal of Spartanburg has reported, based on documents and video released by prosecutors after Kohlhepp's sentencing last month.
It's a "staggering" amount of weaponry, and investigators think he illegally acquired most of it through straw purchases, Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright said.
Investigators have met with a person suspected of buying the guns for Kohlhepp, according to the documents released through public records requests. Wright told the newspaper he expects federal authorities to arrest someone, but no one's been charged so far.
ATF spokesman Gerod King said Tuesday he could not comment on the investigation.
Kohlhepp's conviction as a teenager made it illegal for him to buy guns. In 1987, he was sentenced to 15 years in an Arizona prison for raping a 14-year-old neighbor at gunpoint and threatening to kill her siblings if she called police. He moved to South Carolina after his 2001 release.
And yet Kohlhepp, 46, even bragged to investigators about his collection and shooting skills, saying he could teach the sheriff's office's SWAT team, the documents show.
Several wrongful death lawsuits against Kohlhepp are pending. Relatives of the victims said his gun supplier should be in prison as well.
The buyer "contributed to everything that happened," said Chuck Carver, whose son Charlie was the rescued woman's boyfriend.
Kohlhepp, a real estate agent, killed Carver and chained up his girlfriend after they came to clear brush on his rural property last August. After his arrest, Kohlhepp also confessed to gunning down four people at a motorcycle shop in a 13-year-old cold case many feared might never be solved.
"All the ammo, all the weapons — it's just unreal. And the guy that sold it to him, I want that person charged," said Tom Lucas, the father of Brian Lucas, the slain service manager of Superbike Motorsports. "This guy who's already got a record, he's out there and has got more ammo than the sheriff's department."
Information from: Herald-Journal, http://www.goupstate.com/