When American woman Kala Brown disappeared along with her partner, Charlie Carver, two months ago, it was an event their loved ones said was totally out of character for the family-oriented pair. They left no note, took no belongings and even abandoned their beloved dog.
As the days passed suspicions mounted. Suspicions that we now know were warranted.
Brown was today found chained up inside a storage container in the North Carolina town of Woodruff, 128km northwest of the state capital of Columbia, reports local station WYFF4.
Carver, 32, remains missing.
Charlie Carver and Kala Brown vanished on August 31. Images: Facebook.
According to WYFF4, when authorities, who were acting on information provided by a sex crimes investigator, approached the locked container, they heard furious banging coming from within.
Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright told media first responders have been left shaken by what they found inside.
Brown, 30, had reportedly been held prisoner in the 9m x 4.5m x 3.6m space for two months, regularly fed, but chained by the neck and "obviously traumatised".
“It was pretty emotional, to say the least, when she was found — especially when she was chained like a dog. She had a chain around her neck," he said.
"It's only by God’s grace we found that little girl alive.”
A known sex offender named Todd Christopher Kohlhepp has been arrested in relation to Brown's imprisonment.
Wright confirmed the pair were known to each other but would not comment on the nature of their relationship. However local media have reported that Brown worked for the 45-year-old's real estate business.
News outlets are reporting that Brown told officers there are likely to be four bodies on the property, but this is yet to be confirmed.
“We’re trying to make sure we don’t have a serial killer on our hands,” Wright said. "(It) very possibly could be what we have.”
Carver was seen on CCTV leaving work on August 31, the same day Brown, 30, last made contact with friends, according to The Daily Beast.
Their South Carolina home was found unlocked, medications were left behind, as were Kala’s glasses and contact lenses. Her cherished little Pomeranian also remained in their apartment, left to fend for itself without food or water.
All that was missing was Carver’s Pontiac Grand Prix.
The search for the couple made international news last month, when mysterious and at times sinister status updates began appearing on the missing man's Facebook page.
Along with several false posts about marriage, pregnancy and buying a home, came a flurry of bizarre memes, including one which read: “Sometimes late at night I dig a hole in the backyard to keep the nosy neighbor’s guessing [sic].”
Investigations are ongoing.