UNION COUNTY — A Union man missing since Sunday night when he called 911 for help has been found and is claiming he was kidnapped by two men even as he sits in jail charged with trespassing.
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.
In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Union County Sheriff David Taylor discussed Durham’s disappearance, the ensuing search by local and state law enforcement for him, and his turning up at a residence Monday night claiming to have been the victim of a kidnapping.
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. The search of the immediate area around the car including divers going into the creek was unsuccessful, however, and Taylor said the efforts to find Durham continued Monday involving personnel from his office, the Union Public Safety Department, SLED, and the SC Department of Natural Resources.
Just under 24 hours after Durham called 911 to report someone was chasing him and trying to hurt him, Taylor said 911 received a call from a resident in the lower part of the county saying that Durham was at their house. Taylor said deputies were dispatched to the residence which he said is located on the Whitmire Highway near Old Buncombe Road and found Durham there, claiming that he’d been kidnapped on Sunday and had just escaped his kidnappers.
Taylor said that investigators interviewed Durham who said when he called 911 he’d only had a 1 percent charge left on his cell phone and that this was why his call had been interrupted and why dispatchers could not get him back. He said that Durham told investigators that he’d been kidnapped by two men who had held him captive in their car until Monday evening. Taylor said that Durham told investigators that he’d managed to escape Monday night when his kidnappers stopped to use the bathroom. He said that Durham said he got out of the car and ran to the residence on Whitmire Highway where he identified himself and asked them to call law enforcement.
When asked for a description of his kidnappers, Taylor said that Durham could not provide any details beyond that they were black males had tattoos and wore dreadlocks. He said Durham told investigators his kidnappers had covered his face so he could not see 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.
As for why he had been kidnapped, Taylor said Durham had not provided investigators with a motive for his abduction. He said that investigators with his office and from SLED are working to determine a motive as the investigation continues.
While Durham is no longer missing, he is not a free man, having been arrested for trespassing and being held in the Union County Jail as of Tuesday afternoon. Taylor said that the trespassing charge stems from Durham having been fishing on posted property not long before his disappearance. He said he believed there might be a bond hearing for Durham on the charge later that afternoon.
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.
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.
During Tuesday’s press conference, Taylor said that while the Public Safety Department was the lead agency on the earlier incidents and his office is the lead agency on Sunday’s incident, all three are being looked at as whole by the investigation into Durham’s disappearance.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.