Serial killers. They’ve all been someone’s friend, teacher or neighbor. Even realtor. Yes, in a current ongoing investigation, a South Carolina real estate agent is believed by officials to have killed at least seven people.
Christopher Kohlhepp, 45, confessed earlier this month to killing four people nearly 13 years ago. He also showed authorities where he buried two more victims on his 95-acre property. The investigation was initiated after police found missing person Kala Brown, 30, “chained like a dog” in a metal storage container on Kohlhepp’s land.
It’s true stories like this that might make you question what you believe about people you know or have recently met.
And when you take the time to think about how many people you know, it adds up to be more than you thought. How many handshakes would you say you make in a month?
Most disturbing is how much the heinous crimes that Kohlhepp committed are a jarring contrast to his perceived image. In a brochure marketing his dedication to helping people buy and sell homes, Kohlhepp was portrayed as normal guy who was a “licensed pilot” and “former graphic designer.”
But a deeper dig into Kohlhepp’s past would reveal he was a registered sex offender. And while his successful real estate firm would declare, “we feel that it’s important for our clients to know a little more about who’s working for them besides a name and number,” there was no mention of his criminal past.
Being careful with people you meet
If you’re expected to meet anyone new, it’s best you meet somewhere you’re not alone. In relation to the crime above, an interested home buyer might want to be cautious about meeting a real estate agent inside an empty home – and vice versa. A real estate agent should perhaps meet a new client at the office and make a copy of their identification.
Furthermore, because of web-based services available today, meeting someone from the Internet is a common occurrence.
Meet in a public place, preferably somewhere with security cameras.
Always keep your phone on you.
Tell someone you know where you plan to be and when.
Keep valuables locked away.
Use your common sense and look for red flags.
Remember that anybody can have a criminal past – no matter how “normal” they appear to be. While not every incident is avoidable, by taking precautionary measures you could be potentially saving yourself from a dangerous situation.