Billionaire businessman, 75, was forced to pay $ 250,000 ransom by kidnappers who broke into his home and threatened him with his own weapons
- Elton B. Stephens Jr. was kidnapped on September 11 during a home invasion in Birmingham, Alabama
- Authorities said the suspects, identified as Tabatha Nicole Hodges and Matthew Amos Burke, entered the house to steal various items
- The couple is said to have kidnapped Stephens and forced him to transfer $ 250,000 to their account during the incident
- Stephens was returned home unharmed and informed the authorities
- The suspects were charged with burglary, kidnapping an adult for ransom, property theft and extortion
A retired Alabama businessman was forced to pay a $ 250,000 ransom after being kidnapped during a home invasion this month.
Elton B. Stephens Jr. was returned safely to his rental home in Birmingham, Alabama, just hours after he was kidnapped by two suspects on September 11.
AL.com reports that Stephens woke up around 7 a.m. that morning to find two suspects, identified as Matthew Amos Burke and Tabatha Nicole Hodges, in the house.
Burke was standing over Stephens when he woke up, the report said.
Authorities believe the couple had been in the house since 2am and had already stolen three firearms, including two pistols and a shotgun.
Elton B. Stephens Jr. (pictured), a retired Alabama businessman was kidnapped by two suspects during a home invasion last week
They reportedly told Stephens they would kill him if he asked for help and dragged him to a trailer about an hour’s drive in St. Clair County.
There, they forced the 75-year-old to deposit $ 250,000 into their account, AL.com reports.
Stephens is the son of Elton Bryson Stephens Sr., an American businessman who founded EBSCO Industries in 1944.
According to ForbesThe Stephens family was worth $ 4 billion in 2014 and ranked number 66 on America’s richest families that year.
The publication reported that EBSCO Industries, which has more than 40 business units, had revenues of $ 2.8 million and was ranked # 166 on America’s Largest Private Companies in 2019.
AL.com reports that after transferring the ransom, Stephens was returned to his home unharmed and the authorities were alerted.
Stephens told authorities he did not know either of the suspects, nor did he know the two children, aged 11 and 14, who were allegedly with them.
Matthew Amos Burke and Tabatha Nicole Hodges (left to right) were arrested in connection with Stephen’s kidnapping as well as belongings stolen from his home
That morning, the suspects also stole a digital camera, credit and debit cards, his Toyota truck, checkbook, cooler, and watches worth about $ 2,500 from Stephens’ rental home. ABC 3340 reports.
Those items and the $ 250,000 have since been recovered.
Burke, 34, and Hodges, 33, were charged with burglary, kidnapping an adult for ransom, property theft and extortion.
They were held in the Jefferson County Jail without bail on Friday.
Tommy Spina, Stephen’s attorney, told AL.com in a statement that his client needed time to come to terms with the traumatic experience.
Elton Stephens Jr. was kidnapped in a home invasion last Friday. I ask that his privacy be respected by the press and the public so that he is given time and space to process and deal with these highly traumatizing circumstances, ” the statement said.
“We are grateful and grateful for the hard work of the Birmingham Police Department, the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the Secret Service and the US Attorney’s Office for their hard work investigating this horrifying life experience for Mr. Stephens. ‘
Authorities have declined to release additional information on the case.