When Todd Kohlhepp allegedly kidnapped South Carolina couple Kala Brown and Charlie Carver in August, it wasn’t his first time targeting a young couple, police say. The latest bodies to be identified on the alleged mass murderer’s property are those of Meagan and Johnny Coxie, parents to a young child.
On Wednesday, police identified Meagan and Johnny Coxie by their tattoos. The couple, 25 and 29, had likely been buried since they were reported missing in mid-December 2015, police say. Meagan was shot in the head, and Johnny shot in the torso, according to a coroner’s report. The Coxies had recently welcomed a new baby.
Meagan and Johnny were were troubled but in love, friends told a local NBC affiliate. Meagan’s Facebook says the couple married in February 2012. They raised puppies together, and took pictures of each other at the beach, at an arcade, holding hands in front of the sunset.
But the young couple also struggled to find their footing, sometimes panhandling for money to get by, police said. Both had multiple arrests, the latest in December when Johnny was arrested for unauthorized solicitation and giving false information to police, and Meagan was arrested for child neglect. Meagan’s mother bonded her out of jail after her Dec. 18 arrest, police told the Greenville Online. Meagan told her mother she had a job lined up, and needed to be out from behind bars.
But whether Meagan got the job, or if it was related to her disappearance is unclear. She and Johnny were reported missing on Dec. 22, after they stopped returning messages from family.
The new victims bring Kohlhepp’s alleged killings to seven. Kohlhepp, 45, was arrested Nov. 3 on his Spartanburg County, South Carolina property after a search for Brown and Carver, who disappeared in late August after driving to Kohlhepp’s property to help him with a cleaning job. Investigators found Brown alive and locked in a shipping container, where she had been kept for over two months. Carver was discovered buried nearby, dead of gunshot wounds.
Like Brown and Carver, the Coxies were a young couple looking for work. Brown and Carver were allegedly kidnapped after Kohlhepp hired them to help clean the properties he managed as a real estate agent. Police are reportedly investigating whether he used his real estate business to lure victims to the property where they were buried.
After police rescued Brown from a storage container on Kohlhepp’s 95-acre property in rural South Carolina, they led the suspect around the overgrown lot, where investigators were already using backhoes, helicopters, and cadaver dogs to search for buried bodies.
Dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, the suspected mass murderer took police on a tour of the property, leading them to the Coxies’ burial sites. Kohlhepp appeared to know his victims, calling them by name as he pointed to their graves.
The couple’s families are grieving, and asked a local pastor to release a statement on their behalf.
“Cindy and I have known one another for a few years now,” Pastor Karyl Gaehring said in a statement. “She came about a year ago requesting prayer for her son Johnny and his wife Meagan who were missing. We have been praying for about a year now that they would be found and we would know what happened.
“Today they received the news. The family is in shock, grieving, and are not comfortable talking to anyone at this time. They have asked for people to please try and understand and give them time to heal. They appreciate everyone’s love and concern."
Families of Kohlhepp’s earlier victims said his arrest revived painful memories, but is helping them reach closure. Melissa Ponder, the widow of Superbike victim Scott Ponder, thanked Kala Brown for her bravery in surviving two months in Kohlhepp’s captivity. Police discovered Brown before any other victims, after they heard a banging sound from inside the crate where she was confined.
“Kala is the real hero here,” Ponder told the Herald Journal. “She’s the one that endured the two months of hell and stayed vigilant and alive, and it’s because of that we even get to talk about any of this.”
But four of his alleged victims don’t fit the pattern. After his arrest, Kohlhepp confessed to the so-call Superbike Killings, a 2003 quadruple homicide of all four employees at a South Carolina motorcycle shop, police say. He confessed to the killings in exchange for a meeting with his mother, and an agreement to send money to an unnamed child for a college education.
All seven killings have left police searching for any motive, and the victims’ families asking why their loved ones were targeted. When Kohlhepp shot up the Superbike shop, he ignored the store’s cash and a signed deposit slip sitting in a nearby briefcase. Reportedly a disgruntled customer, Kohlhepp carried out the killings in under seven minutes and left without a trace. Police only tied him to the crime after they identified him in Brown and Carver’s missing persons case.