ATLANTA – 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 act of retaliation involving the Bloods street gang.
Five people were arrested following a late night raid 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, the FBI's agent in charge for North Carolina, said Janssen's kidnapping was related to his daughter's prosecution of Kelvin Melton, who is serving a life sentence for shooting a man in 2011. Melton, 49, was convicted of being a habitual felon, and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.
According to the complaint, Melton had a mobile phone 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, upscale, golf course subdivision. Several people assaulted him and someone used a stun gun. He was then driven to Atlanta and his wife, Christie, reported him missing.
On Monday, she started receiving a series of text messages from a phone in Georgia. One of the texts said 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 ... we will do drive by and gun down anybody."
The messages made specific demands for the benefit of Melton, an inmate at Polk Correctional Institution in Butner, N.C., but the demands 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 because the person was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation, told The Associated Press that the kidnapping was an act of retaliation and that the communications of those involved suggested a link to the Bloods. The official had been briefed on the investigation.
Court documents from Melton's 2011 conviction in North Carolina also list his affiliation with the gang. He was prosecuted by Colleen Janssen.
At 12:19 a.m. Wednesday, Janssen's wife received a text photograph of him tied up in a chair 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 said:
"The first spot we are checking out is close to the house."
"We want to make sure it's in a secluded area and the ground is soft so we can go 3 feet deep."
"Get a bag, put it over his head, and stuff something in his mouth."
"However you feel like doing it, just do it."
"Make sure to clean the area up. Don't leave anything. Don't leave any DNA behind."
Following the call, authorities tried to enter Melton's cell and he temporarily barred the door and smashed the phone. A few hours later, they located Janssen in Atlanta at the Forest Cove Apartments, a complex of two-story townhomes with brick and wood siding.
Charged with kidnapping were: Jenna Paulin Martin; Tiana Maynard; Jev Ante "Flame" Price; Michael "Hot" Montreal Gooden and Clifton James Roberts.
They were expected to make a first court appearance Thursday in Atlanta. It's not clear whether they have attorneys.
According to a complaint filed in federal court, the women and Roberts conspired to kidnap Janssen while Price and Gooden were the "night watch" over him.
Outside the Atlanta apartment complex Thursday, several residents described hearing a loud boom that startled them. Two mangled, charred doors lay in a courtyard area in front of one of the townhomes.
The FBI describes its Hostage Rescue Team as a national level counterterrorist unit, offering a tactical option for any extraordinary hostage crisis or other law enforcement situation in the U.S. The FBI says the unit, established in 1983, responds to the most urgent and complex FBI cases.
In Wake Forest, there was no answer at the Janssen's door. Authorities said the Janssen family had asked for privacy.
Stan Sasinowski, who lives across the street, said he went to the home Saturday and spoke to Janssen's brother-in-law. He said there were drops of blood leading from the front door toward the driveway.
"There were about maybe six, eight, 10 spots of, little spots of blood," Sasinowski said. "They were canvassing the neighborhood, questioning people as to what they may have seen or heard, observed."
Janssen's neighbors praised the work of the law enforcement officers.
"I've been crying my eyes out," said Connie O'Sullivan, who lives next door. "I love him to death, and I've been praying that nothing bad happened to him."