BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Two people are behind bars after allegedly kidnapping Birmingham businessman and philanthropist Elton B. Stephens Jr. and forcing him to wire hundreds of thousands of dollars to them after stealing his vehicle, multiple guns, and jewelry last week.
Court records show Matthew Amos Burke, 34, and Tabatha Nicole Hodges, 33, are facing numerous burglary, kidnapping of an adult for ransom, extortion, and theft of property charges. The pair was booked into the Jefferson County Jail on Monday afternoon, each being held on bond totaling $290,000.
Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr confirmed the charges and case details to CBS 42.
According to Tommy Spina, Stephens’ lawyer, as well as statements from investigators in a filed affidavit, Burke and Hodges entered Stephens’ home at 2 a.m. Sept. 11 and stole a car, several guns and jewelry valued at over $2,500. At 7 a.m., the two entered Stephens’ bedroom, taking him to an unknown location and forcing him to give them $250,000.
Stephens’ father, Elton B. Stephens Sr., founded EBSCO Industries in 1944 in Birmingham. It grew to become one of the largest privately-held companies in the country with more than 6,000 employees and over 20 businesses it operates around the world.
For years, Stephens Jr. served as vice president and general manager of EBSCO Realty and was also the town founder of Mt Laurel. In a report published by Forbes in 2014, the Stephens family were listed as one of the richest families in America with an estimated net worth of $4 billion.
“Elton Stephens Jr. was kidnapped in a home invasion last Friday,” Spina said in a written statement to CBS 42. “I ask that his privacy be respected by the press and the public to allow him time and space to process and deal with these very traumatizing circumstances. We are thankful and grateful for the hard work of the Birmingham Police Department, The Jefferson County DA’s office, the FBI, the Secret Service and the US Attorneys office for their hard work in investigating this horrid life experience for Mr. Stephens.”
Burke and Hodges could also face other federal charges.