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Authorities Ask Public for Help After Convicted Kidnapper Is Released from Prison 16 Years Too Early

  Police in Jefferson County, Alabama, released a 35-year-old convicted kidnapper Friday — only to realize that they had released him way to...

 Police in Jefferson County, Alabama, released a 35-year-old convicted kidnapper Friday — only to realize that they had released him way too early.

Officers are now requesting the public’s help to find Matthew Amos Burke, whom they describe as being around 5’7″ tall, 170 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes.

“He has connections to the Fultondale, Tarrant and Remlap communities. If you see him, please call 911,” Joni Money of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a Tuesday news release.

In August, Burke pleaded guilty to “kidnapping, bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud” charges for his involvement in the September 2020 kidnapping of retired Birmingham businessman Elton B. Stephens Jr, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office – Northern District of Alabama.

In September last year, Burke had illegally broken into Stephens Jr.’s home. The kidnapper then abducted the tycoon and took him to his residence, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

At the Burke residence, the assailant forced Stephens Jr. to wire $250,000 from his bank account to another, after which Burke took him back to his house and let him go. Stephens Jr. then reported the encounter to Birmingham Police Department and the Mountain Brook Police Department.

Burke had pleaded guilty as part of a plea agreement where both the defense and the prosecution agreed to recommend a sentence of 204 months’ imprisonment.

Burke was then scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Abdul K. Kallon on November 2.

According to, authorities held Burke in the Jefferson County Jail under a federal detainer after his guilty plea to federal charges, which resulted in a 17 years’ sentence.

U.S. Marshals put the detainer on Burke in late November, the outlet reported. After Burke was over with the state charges against him, he was to be released into the Marshals’ custody.

According to the Sheriff’s office, the state charges against Burke were dismissed after Burke appeared before court on Friday.

“At the time transfer from the neighboring agency, there was no documentation left to notify jail personnel that Burke had been sentenced by another court and was not to be released,” the Sheriff’s office said in the news release.

“It was discovered around 3:30 PM on Monday, December 13, 2021, that Burke should have been held for transfer to prison, where he was to serve an already imposed sentence,” the Sheriff’s office added.

Sheriff’s attorney Tommy Spina confirmed the news of Burke’s release in a statement shared with WBMA-TV.

“I can confirm that did in fact occur on Friday, Dec. 10, although no one on the federal side of things learned of it until late this afternoon,” Spina reportedly said.

“I have confirmed that a federal detainer warrant was in place; however, he was released in error.”

The Sheriff’s office said they’re still investigating the “circumstances surrounding the release.”

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