UNION COUNTY — A man whose disappearance lead to a search by four law enforcement agencies that ended with him being found claiming to have been kidnapped is in jail after being charged with having made the whole thing up.
Kelvin Jerome Durham, 24, 913 North Church Street, Union, called 911 shortly before 9:30 p.m. Sunday, July 30 and informed dispatchers that someone was chasing him. A deputy was then dispatched to the 2300 Cross Keys Highway area of Union and was advised by dispatch that they had lost the caller and could not get him back on the line.
When the deputy arrived at the scene he found a black 2007 BMW that belongs to Durham but was unable to locate Durham and called investigators to the scene.
Durham’s disappearance lead to a search that involved the Union County Sheriff’s Office, the Union Public Safety Department, the SC Department of Natural Resources, and SLED. The search came to an end shortly before 9 p.m. Monday, July 31 when a resident of Whitmire Highway called 911 to report that Durham was at their house. When deputies arrived, Durham told them he’d been kidnapped by two black males who’d held him prisoner until a short time earlier when he managed to escape from them and run to the residence on Whitmire Highway to get help.
By Tuesday, Durham was in the Union County Jail having been arrested for trespassing. The charge stems from Durham allegedly fishing on posted property shortly before his disappearance.
By Wednesday, however, the number of charges against Durham had doubled as he was also charged by the Sheriff’s Office with filing a false police report.
The warrant for Durham’s arrest states that on Sunday, July 30, and Monday, July 31 he “falsely reported to the Union County Sheriff’s Office that he had been kidnapped at gunpoint” from the 2300 area Cross Keys Highway and “held against his will and escaped his capture while on the Old Buncombe Road.”
Sheriff David Taylor said Thursday that the charge against Durham was filed after investigators took his story a part leading them to conclude that the kidnapping did not happen. Taylor said the investigation is continuing as investigators seek to determine where Durham was during the time he was missing. He said that Durham had not provided investigators with any information about his whereabouts or why he made up the story.
On Tuesday, the day after Durham turned up claiming to have been kidnapped, Taylor held a press conference about the case.
Taylor said that Durham’s car had been discovered abandoned with the keys still inside in the Fairforest Creek area which prompted an immediate search that ultimately involved bloodhounds and even divers going into the nearby creek. The search continued until Monday night when Durham turned up at the residence on Whitmire Highway claiming to have been kidnapped.
When interviewed by investigators, Taylor said Durham claimed that when he called 911 he only had a 1 percent charge left on his cell phone and that was why his call had been interrupted and dispatchers could not get him back. Taylor said Durham told investigators he’d been kidnapped by two black males with tattoos and dreadlocks who had held him captive in their car until Monday evening when, while they stopped to use the bathroom, he managed to escape. He said that Durham said he could not provide anymore details about his captors because they had covered his face to keep him from seeing theirs.
Taylor said that Durham did not appear to be injured nor was there any damage to his car and nothing appeared to have been stolen. He added that Durham had not provided investigators with a motive for his abduction.
Durham’s disappearance came a day after his grandmother reported threatening graffiti had been painted on the front door of their house.
That case is being handled by the Public Safety Department and the report filed by the responding officer states on Saturday, July 29, he was dispatched to meet with Durham’s grandmother at Hardee’s about a vandalism. The report states that when the officer arrived Durham’s grandmother told him that she had found a message spray painted on the front door of her home that morning. It states she said the message was “I WILL KILL YOU.”
The report states that she said that her grandson, Durham, was home but she had not had a chance to talk to him about the message. It states Durham’s grandmother said she did not know who the message was meant for, but did mention that Durham had recently been on foot and hit by a vehicle that left the scene.
Hit And Run
The hit and run in which Durham was injured occurred on Thursday, July 10 on the 400 block of Brockman Heights in Union.
According to the incident report about the hit and run, a Public Safety officer was dispatched to the incident scene and by the time he arrived Union County EMS was there treating Durham.
When interviewed by the officer, the report states Durham said he had been jogging down Brockman Heights when a black or blue vehicle hit him on the right side of his body (hip and upper leg). The report states Durham said the vehicle did not stop to check on him.
The report states the officer found a car mirror on the side of the road where Durham was laying.
The report states Durham said he was looking down as he was running and all of a sudden the vehicle hit him. It states Durham said he went over the top of the vehicle and landed on the shoulder of the road in the grass.
Durham was then taken to Union Medical Center for more treatment.
The incident was turned over to investigations for follow-up and a victim’s advocate form was given to Durham’s mother by the responding officer.
The report filed on the vandalism/threatening message at Durham’s home states that after interviewing Durham’s grandmother at Hardee’s, the responding officer went to the residence at 913 North Church Street and photographed the message on the front door. The report states the message was stenciled with white paint.
The report states there was a black BMW in the driveway but no one answered the door of the residence. The case was then forwarded to investigations.
While the Sheriff’s Office is the lead agency in the investigation of Durham’s disappearance, the Public Safety Department is the lead agency in the investigation of the vandalism and hit and run incidents. Public Safety Director Sam White said Thursday that the investigations into those incidents are continuing.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.