WAKE FOREST, N.C. — A North Carolina man whose daughter prosecutes violent crimes was rescued by an elite FBI team after he was kidnapped and terrorized for five days in what authorities described as an act of retaliation involving the Bloods street gang.
Five people were arrested after a late-night raid Wednesday by the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team on an Atlanta apartment.
During the abduction, the kidnappers took a picture of Frank Arthur Janssen tied up in a chair and sent it to his wife, threatening to torture and dismember him if she went to police, according to court documents.
John Strong, FBI agent in charge for North Carolina, said the kidnapping was related to Janssen’s daughter’s prosecution of Kelvin Melton, who is serving a life sentence for ordering the shooting of a man in 2011. Melton, 49, was convicted of being a habitual felon and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.
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Strong said that although Janssen, 63, was unhurt, he was receiving medical treatment, after spending “five nights in the hands of a group of very dangerous people.”
According to the criminal complaint, Melton had a cellphone in his prison cell and was in constant contact with the alleged kidnappers. Authorities closed in on the suspects by tracking their cellphones and listening to their calls.
Court documents said a woman knocked on Janssen’s door Saturday at his Wake Forest home in a quiet golf-course subdivision. Several people assaulted him and someone used a stun gun. He was then driven to Atlanta; his wife, Christie, reported him missing.
On Monday, she started receiving a series of text messages from a phone in Georgia. One text said that if law enforcement was contacted, “We will send (Mr. Janssen) back to you in 6 boxes and every chance we get we will take someone in your family to Italy and torture them and kill them.”
The messages made specific ransom demands for the benefit of Melton, an inmate at Polk Correctional Institution in Butner, N.C., but the details were not spelled out in the court filings and authorities did not answer questions at a news conference.
A federal law-enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the kidnapping was an act of retaliation and that the communications of those involved suggested a link to the Bloods.
Court documents from Melton’s 2012 conviction in North Carolina list his affiliation with the gang. Records show he was prosecuted by Wake County Assistant District Attorney Colleen Janssen, Frank Janssen’s daughter.
At 12:19 a.m. Wednesday, Janssen’s wife received a text photograph of him tied up along with a message: “Tomorrow we call you again an if you can not tell me where my things are at tomorrow i will start torchering.”
At 8:20 p.m., a call was placed between Melton and a phone associated with the kidnappers. The two male callers discussed what sounded like an execution.
After that call, authorities tried to enter Melton’s cell and he temporarily barred the door and smashed the phone. A few hours after correction officers forced their way into Melton’s cell, authorities found Janssen in Atlanta at the Forest Cove Apartments, a complex of two-story town homes.
Charged with kidnapping were: Jenna Paulin Martin, 21; Tiana Maynard, 20; Jevante “Flame” Price, 20; Michael “Hot” Montreal Gooden, 21; and Clifton James Roberts, 19.
They appeared Thursday in federal court in Atlanta, where a magistrate judge read the charges against them.
Material from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The (Raleigh) News & Observer is included in this report.