For $89, someone with enough interest could purchase a signed pencil tracing of serial killer Todd Kohlhepp’s hands from prison.
Or at least that was until the listing was removed from the website that specializes in true crime collectibles, or memorabilia from high-profile killers known as “murderabilia.”
Supernaught.com had listed the tracing of Kohlhepp’s hands for sale among hundreds of other items that include string artwork from Charles Manson and signed prison letters from Ted Bundy.
The item that had been first listed at $100 was taken down Thursday after the Herald-Journal contacted the site.
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It is unclear as to whether the item was sold or simply removed. An email seeking comment did not get a response by Thursday night.
According to the state’s criminal code, an inmate is prohibited from profiting from their crime. The law requires offenders to notify the Attorney General’s Office and the Office of Victim’s Assistance of any contract they’ve entered into that would allow them to earn money from their crime. Those proceeds must then go to the Attorney General’s Office or Office of Victim’s Assistance. If a victim or another eligible person finds out an offender is profiting from their crime, they can bring a civil lawsuit against the offender. Offenders or the agents or representatives who fail to notify authorities of any contracts may be subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000.
Andy Kahan is a victim’s advocate for the city of Houston, Texas and has worked to thwart the existence of “murderabilia” for about 15 years. He monitors sites regularly to see what is being sold, and he lobbies on behalf of victims to stop what he refers to as “notoriety for profit.”
“Half of the offenders are clueless their stuff is being sold. The other half is actually aware its being sold and actually gets proceeds for whatever the sale goes for,” he said. “You shouldn’t be able to rob, rape, murder or whatever and make money off of it.”
Kahan said about seven dealers have set up their own sites to sell items from high profile killers. Dealers used to use eBay until the company drafted a policy preventing such sales.
Kohlhepp, 46, was sentenced to life in prison in May after being convicted of kidnapping missing Anderson woman Kala Brown and killing seven people including Brown’s boyfriend, Charlie David Carver.
He is being held in statewide protective custody through the S.C. Department of Corrections.
Jeffrey Taillon, a spokesman for the department, said if profiting off of memorabilia is specifically mentioned in inmate mail, officers are able to stop it and refer the case to the attorney general’s office, but it’s often difficult to spot.
“If they can determine if it’s a ‘murderabilia’ situation, it’s absolutely flagged and stopped. Often times, that’s difficult to do based on the types of materials.”
Chuck Carver, Charlie Carver’s father, said the prison system should be able to prevent this.
“That bothers me. You’ve got all these other problems going on in prison like prisoners with cell phones and all this other stuff and then you find this,” Carver said. “It bothered me. Surely they can’t be oblivious that it’s going on.”
Tom Lucas, the father of Brian Lucas, one of four Kohlhepp killed at a motorcycle store in Chesnee in 2003, said he wants to see the state make sweeping legislative changes that are more beneficial toward crime victims.
“We have got to get past this thing where inmates have more rights than victims’ families, and I’m sick and tired of it,” Lucas said. “It’s got to stop. It’s got to stop.”
Lucas said he has a scheduled meeting with Department of Corrections leaders in February to discuss concerns and solutions and plans to add Kohlhepp’s hand tracing to his talking points.