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Wealthy Alabama Man Survives 'Horrid Life Experience'

Elton B. Stephens Jr. was kidnapped and forced to pay a ransom, per court documents
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 18, 2020 10:29 AM CDT

(Newser) – A wealthy retired businessman in Birmingham, Ala., was kidnapped before he was forced to wire $250,000 to his captors in a "horrid life experience," according to the man's attorney. Around 1am on Sept. 11, intruders entered the rented home of Elton B. Stephens Jr., whose family Forbes ranked as the 66th richest in America in 2014, per AL.com. The 75-year-old Stephens, who was asleep, woke up around 7am to find one of the captors standing over his bed, according to court documents. The pair allegedly took three of Stephens' guns—along with a truck, credit and debit cards, jewelry, a camera, and other items, per WBMA—saying they'd kill him if he called anyone. They then took Stephens to a trailer in St. Clair County, where he wired the money, documents state.

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He was returned home around 4:30pm. The next day, police arrested Matthew Amos Burke, 34, and Tabatha Nicole Hodges, 33, of Remlap. They're being held without bond in Jefferson County Jail on charges of burglary, kidnapping an adult for ransom, extortion, and theft of property. WMBA reports the home invasion was captured by a security camera. Stephens' attorney, Tommy Spina, said the victim—who is retired from EBSCO Industries, a company his father founded in 1944—did not know his captors. He was "physically unharmed" but "is obviously emotionally traumatized," Spina said, adding the $250,000 and stolen property were recovered. Birmingham Police have said they will not provide details beyond what is included in court documents. (Read more kidnapping stories.)

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