COLUMBIA, S.C. — The decades-old court records of a man arrested earlier this week after a 30-year-old South Carolina woman was found chained in a metal shipping container paint him as a severely disturbed adolescent.

Todd Kohlhepp, now 45 and living in Moore, S.C., once threatened to kill his mother, used a hammer to destroy his newly remodeled bedroom, poured bleach into a goldfish bowl and locked a boy in a dog cage and rolled him around.

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After being charged as an adult in the 1986 rape of a 14-year-old girl in Tempe, Ariz., when he was 15, he pleaded guilty to a lesser crime. One neighbor in a 1987 pre-sentencing report described him as “a devil on a chain.”

As part of the plea bargain, Kohlhepp's record would reflect he pleaded guilty to kidnapping, and he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Afterward, he was required to register as a sex offender.

Originally, he was charged with sexual assault and kidnapping.

Todd Kohlhepp, now 45 and living in Moore, S.C., once threatened to kill his mother, used a hammer to destroy his newly remodeled bedroom, poured bleach into a goldfish bowl and locked a boy in a dog cage and rolled him around.

After being charged as an adult in the 1986 rape of a 14-year-old girl in Tempe, Ariz., when he was 15, he pleaded guilty to a lesser crime. One neighbor in a 1987 pre-sentencing report described him as “a devil on a chain.”

As part of the plea bargain, Kohlhepp's record would reflect he pleaded guilty to kidnapping, and he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Afterward, he was required to register as a sex offender.

Originally, he was charged with sexual assault and kidnapping.

On November 24th, 1986, I entered into a verbal argument with my girlfriend, who was also 15 at the time, over the fact that she was seeing someone else. ... After a long discussion coming from two teenagers, final result was that the relationship had ended, but that we would remain friends.

He said he was charged with kidnapping because he happened to be carrying a firearm that he didn't know how to use but flashed at his girlfriend. He contended that Arizona authorities were coming down hard on minors with firearms because of heavy gang activity at the time.

He never mentioned that he served time in prison from 1987 to 2001 after he "told her not to move while we talked this out."

Hundreds of pages of court records, including a presentencing report, psychological evaluations and statements from police, probation officers and judges in the 1986 case portray Kohlhepp as an emotionally disturbed 15-year-old with explosive anger issues, no family support system and little remorse for his crime at the time.

In reality, Kohlhepp used his father’s handgun to force a 14-year-old neighbor to walk to his home, where he placed duct tape on her in his bedroom, tied her hands and then raped her, according to Arizona records.

When questioned about the crime, Kohlhepp told a probation officer that he wasn’t sure why he raped the girl but it could have been an act of rebellion because his father was out of town, the records show. He said the gun did not work.

He said he also used a knife to threaten the teenage girl after placing the gun back where he found it, according to the records.

“When questioned how he thinks this offense has affected the victim, the defendant responded, ‘I have messed myself up, too,’ ” a probation officer reported.

While Kohlhepp told the officer he knew what he did was wrong, he said he thought the girl was 16 at the time, so he considered a 15-year sentence for the rape unfair. He wanted his sentence to be 12 years or fewer because he thought getting out prison at age 28 would allow him to get a job in the military, according to the pre-sentence report.

The girl's rape had a “devastating effect on the entire family,” her parents said at the time. She cried and was unable to communicate during most of an interview with a probation officer, and her parents said her school grades and sports participation deteriorated.

Kohlhepp was a “violent and vicious person” who shined a knife in the girl’s face during the assault, they said in the records. They alleged he knew her age at the time and “had no sense of reality.”

The 15-year-old Kohlhepp was an only child whose parents had divorced when he was 1 or 2, according to the records.

"He is not a bad boy” even though the crime was wrong, his mother said in a letter to the court.

Because her son walked his victim home after he raped her, “does that sound like a dangerous criminal?” she asked.

But she informed a probation officer that he was repeatedly mean to other children growing up, and both parents talked of his explosive anger:

He put Clorox in a goldfish bowl when he wanted a gerbil as a pet but didn't receive one.

He shot a dog with a BB gun

He was dismissed from Boy Scouts because he was deemed disruptive.

He destroyed a remodeled bedroom with a hammer and wrecked other items in his childhood and adolescence from other children’s projects, to models and a stereo that had been a gift.

Kohlhepp experienced emotional and behavioral problems since he was 15 months old, his mother said in a juvenile probation officer’s report.

His father told a probation officer that the only emotion his son was capable o

He told his mother once that he wanted to live with his natural father, “and if he must kill her to get there, then that was what he was going to do,” the records show. He came to hate both his stepfather and his father.

A neighbor reported Kohlhepp once locked her son in a dog kennel cage and then rolled him until her son was crying, according to the records. Kohlhepp just laughed.

In 1980 when Kohlhepp would have been 8 or 9 years old, he was admitted to a Georgia mental-health facility because of his mother’s inability to enforce limits and his behavioral problems in school, according to a juvenile probation officer’s report. He also appeared preoccupied with sex during his early sessions though that decreased in time.

Evaluations described him as intelligent but with low motivation, poor self-esteem and anti-social personality characteristics. He once threatened suicide and experienced a hallucinatory episode.

“Behaviorally, he is demanding, self-centered and likely attempts to force others to do what he wants in order to meet his own needs,” one report stated.

Then as a 15-year-old, he raped his neighbor.

Allowing Kohlhepp to plead guilty to a non-sexual crime was a “travesty of justice,” an adult probation officer wrote in Kohlhepp's pre-sentence report.

“It would appear that his behavior has been progressively worsening and now, it has escalated to the point where he has sexually assaulted an innocent child,” wrote Kim Otto, deputy adult probation officer. “One can only speculate as to where the defendant’s behavior will lead. It is this writer’s opinion that it is this type of individual, one with little or no conscience, who presents the greatest risk to the community.”

Contributing: Mike Ellis, Anderson (S.C.) Independent-Mail. Follow Tim Smith on Twitter: @tcsmith312

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