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Missing South Carolina woman found 'chained like a dog'

Police officers searching the property in Woodruff, South Carolina Image copyright
Image caption Police officers searching the property in Woodruff, South Carolina

Police have found a body while searching a property in South Carolina where a missing woman was discovered "chained up like a dog".

A local sheriff said the 100-acre estate was still being searched "to make sure that we don't have a serial killer on our hands."

Registered sex offender Todd Kohlhepp, 45, was arrested on Thursday in connection with the incident.

The woman found went missing in late August this year with her boyfriend.

The body has not been identified, but prosecutor Barry Barnette said the woman saw her captor shoot and kill her boyfriend.

She was found on Thursday after police heard banging noises and screams from inside a metal shipping container in Woodruff, 80 miles northwest of the state capital of Columbia.

It was described by Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright as "a hellish place to be locked in hot weather. No lights, no windows, no air flow".

Image copyright Sparanburg County Sheriff's Office
Image caption Todd Kohlhepp was added to the South Carolina Sex Offender Registry because of a 1987 kidnapping conviction in Arizona

The woman, who was described as being "obviously traumatised," was held in the container with a chain around her neck for two months, Mr Wright told reporters.

She told police that four people may be buried on the property's land.

"We're trying to make sure we don't have a serial killer on our hands," Mr Wright said. "It very possibly could be what we have."

He said the woman had worked for Mr Kohlhepp, who was a licensed real estate agent.

Officers had been led to the property thanks to a tip-off by a sex-crime investigator.

Guns and a large amount of ammunition were seized from the property, according to Mr Barnette.

Mr Kohlhepp, who has a previous kidnapping conviction, appeared in court on Friday in Spartanburg on a kidnapping charge.

More charges would be filed, Mr Barnette said.

Image copyright AP
Image caption South Carolina police searched the home of Mr Kohlhepp on Thursday after he was arrested

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