Alleged abductor nabbed in NJ

Published 9:29 am Thursday, December 3, 2009

MT. LAUREL, NJ – After nearly 10 years of avoiding arrest, a New Jersey man is behind bars, charged with the Dec. 17, 1999 kidnapping of his two young nieces from their home in Ahoskie.

Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh confirmed that 51-year-old Stephen Kirk Murray was arrested Thanksgiving night by Mt. Laurel (NJ) Police. Chief Fitzhugh said police there had received a tip that Murray would be in their city during the holiday.

Murray, who was reportedly living in Medford, NJ, was charged with being a fugitive from justice and incarcerated in Burlington County Jail in Mount Holly, NJ under a $150,000 cash bond.

Chief Fitzhugh said his department will drive to New Jersey to pick-up Murray in the event he waives his right to an extradition hearing.

“We’re still waiting to hear if he skips the extradition process, if so, we’ll go get him and bring him back to Ahoskie,” Fitzhugh told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald late Wednesday afternoon.

Upon returning to Ahoskie, Murray has a felony warrant waiting – transporting a child out of state in violation of a custody order.

Murray is the second person arrested in this kidnapping case, one involving his nieces – Abishiree “Abby” Tova Steyne and Christianna “Christy” Charis Steyne. At the time of their alleged abduction, the girls were respectively ages 6 and 8.

On Feb. 2, 2006, the girls’ mother, Joyce Murray-Steyne, was arrested following a routine traffic stop in the Harnett County (NC) town of Lillington. Abby and Christy were in the vehicle at the time of the traffic stop and were later turned over to their father, Danny Steyne, a former minister in the Ahoskie area, of Columbia, SC.

The FBI charged Mrs. Steyne with removal of minor children in North Carolina in violation of a custody order and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

On June 5, 2006 in Hertford County Superior Court, Mrs. Steyne was given a suspended sentence and probation on two felony counts of transporting a child across state lines.

It is alleged that Murray helped his sister (Mrs. Steyne) kidnap the girls from Ahoskie 10 years ago. The girls’ older brother, Peter Steyne (age 16 at the time), also went along with Murray and Mrs. Steyne. However, he was left behind at the Roanoke Rapids motel after the group rented a room there on the night of Dec. 17, 1999.

Published reports at that time revealed the girls and Peter Steyne were told they were going to New Jersey to visit with grandparents over the Christmas holiday. That trip was reportedly to only last one week, but the girls were never returned to their father’s home in Ahoskie.

That prompted a national alert among law enforcement departments as well as posted online by numerous websites dealing with missing and/or exploited children.

It was later learned that Mrs. Steyne, using several aliases to conceal her and her daughters’ identities, and the girls lived in several states prior to her arrest in 2006.

Upon his return to North Carolina, Murray also faces a misdemeanor charge in Halifax County for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. That warrant, on file at the Ahoskie Police Department, was issued due to Murray abandoning Peter Steyne at a Roanoke Rapids motel.