A South Carolina serial killer was spared the death penalty on May 26 after pleading guilty to seven murders and accepting seven consecutive life sentences.
Todd Kohlhepp pleaded guilty and admitted his role in the murders just seven months after he was arrested for the crimes. He was caught when investigators looked into the disappearance of a missing couple, and ended up rescuing a woman chained inside of a shipping container.
Kala Brown was raped and locked in the container for more than two months after Kohlhepp killed her boyfriend. In court, 46-year-old Kohlhepp pleaded guilty to 14 charges that included the murders as well as charges of kidnapping and sexual assault.
"The term life means ... until your death in the South Carolina Department of Corrections," Judge Derham Cole said, Greenville Online reported.
Before he was arrested, Kohlhepp bought and sold real estate in Upstate South Carolina. He did have a previous history of criminal behavior, including raping a 14-year-old girl at gunpoint as a teen. He was tried as an adult in that case and sentenced to 15 years in prison in Arizona, where the rape took place.
Kohlhepp moved to South Carolina after his release from prison, and was granted his real estate license. He worked as a broker in Spartanburg before starting his own business.
"He should absolutely have gotten the death penalty," one Daily Mail reader commented. "My only complaint about the DP is how inconsistently it's applied. Ridiculous."
"Does anyone know WHY the police went to search his property in the first place?" one reader wondered. "No one explains that. They didn't know he was a serial killer then. So I wonder what triggered them to search his property in the first place."
"Our laws are inconsistent; there is no compelling reason for mercy for this monster," another added.
The widow of one of Kohlhepp's victims, Melissa Ponder Brackman, said the days after the murder of her husband as a "living hell."
"I have lived 13 years without a father," his son Scott Jr., who was born after the murder, said in court.
Kala Brown, the woman who was rescued at the man's property, said that she visited his property with her boyfriend for a cleaning job. She was discovered on Nov. 3, 2016, when police heard her screams while searching his property.
Co-workers at Kohlhepp's business said he was a hard worker but had strange habits, including watching pornographic videos at work.