Federal grand jury indicts couple on kidnapping charges in Elton B. Stephens Jr. case


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Two people who were arrested and charged with trying to kidnap a member of a prominent Birmingham business family have been indicted by a grand jury.

Matthew Amos Burke, 34, and Tabatha Nicole Hodges, 32, were each indicted on one count of conspiracy and one count of kidnapping Tuesday, adding that the two had allegedly collected ransom money as part of the conspiracy to kidnap Elton B. Stephens Jr.

According to the indictment, Burke and Hodges traveled to a residence in Jefferson County on Sept. 11 and unlawfully entered Stephens’ home. 

“They abducted him and transported him to a residence in Remlap, Alabama, in an effort to obtain ransom money in the amount of $250,000,” a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Alabama stated. “A wire transfer in the amount of $250,000 was sent to a bank account belonging to Hodges. After receiving the ransom money, Burke and Hodges transported the individual back to his residence and released him. Burke told him that his family would be killed if he called the police about the kidnapping or the ransom.”

Stephens’ father, Elton B. Stephens Sr., was the founder of the Birmingham-based EBSCO Industries, one of the largest privately-held companies in the United States. As of 2014, the Stephens family had a net worth of over $4 billion, according to Forbes

The maximum penalty for conspiracy is 5 years in prison. The maximum penalty for kidnapping is up to life in prison.

The FBI and United States Secret Service investigated the case, along with Birmingham Police Department and Mountain Brook Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John G. Camp and Assistant United States Attorney William G. Simpson.


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