Local News

Man who thwarted apparent kidnapping overwhelmed by support

Posted May 21, 2010 5:03 p.m. EDT
Updated May 21, 2010 7:24 p.m. EDT

— A Chatham County man said Friday that he's amazed by the outpouring of public support he's received since he helped foil an apparent kidnapping last week in downtown Chapel Hill.

Joey Shelton said he and his brother, Freddie, were running errands on May 12 when they saw a man grab a 18-year-old woman who was jogging along Columbia Street. The man was dragging her to a nearby car when the Sheltons intervened.

They backed up their Cadillac to block the exit to the parking lot, and the man then let the woman go. As the man fled, he ran into Joey Shelton with his car, knocking him onto the hood and then into the street.

Theodore James Walker, 26, of 108 Timber Hollow Court in Chapel Hill, was arrested a short time later, and police said they found a loaded shotgun and a baseball bat in his car and condoms in his pants pocket.

Walker is charged with second-degree kidnapping, assault on a female and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. He remains in the Orange County jail under a $5 million bond.

Joe Shelton repeatedly says he's not a hero, but that hasn't stopped people from treating him as one.

"Women come up, and they say, 'Thank you for all the women,' and then the men come up and say, 'Thank you. I've got a daughter,'" he said.

He said he doesn't understand why people keep telling him that most people wouldn't have gotten involved in the situation.

"If somebody had actually seen her facial expression, how horrified (she looked), how terrible the situation was, they would have done the same thing," he said.

Chapel Hill Businessman Mike Miles disagrees.

"These guys chose to not just dial 911. They stopped. They got involved," Miles said. "They paid a price, but the price they paid saved a young lady from a horrible situation and put a bad guy in jail. That’s a lot of good to do."

Miles set up a fund at RBC Bank to help Joey Shelton pay his medical bills. The incident left Shelton with a fractured foot and back injuries that have prevented him from returning to his jobs as a barber and chauffeur.

"I try to keep my bills paid up, and thank God, I have a wife that, when things are hard, she can step in," Joey Shelton said.

Miles said he doesn't know how much has been donated to the fund because contributions can be made at any RBC branch. Someone donated at a branch in Manteo, for example, and a Chapel Hill branch has received at least 40 donations, including calls from people in Florida and Tennessee.

"When this started happening, I’m like, man, people really care, you know. So, it still kind of blows me away when I think about it," Joey Shelton said of the medical fund.

He tries not to think about his injuries, focusing instead on the woman he and his brother rescued. He talks to her regularly on the phone and said she's become like a little sister to him. He's eager for her to meet his family, and Freddie Shelton said he can't wait to speak with her.

"Her spirits are high, and she's happy, and that's all I hear. So, I'm happy about that," Joey Shelton said. "I'm truly believing that God set this thing in motion, where this guy was not going to take his child like that."