A bizarre kidnapping in North Carolina came to an end Wednesday with the dramatic rescue of 63-year-old Frank Janssen from an apartment in Atlanta, Georgia. Now that the kidnapping has come to a close,the FBI is now saying it knows the real story behind the seemingly inexplicable abduction of the Wake Forest man from his upscale home in an idyllic, golf course subdivision.
Janssen’s daughter is an assistant district attorney who in 2012 prosecuted Kelvin Melton, a high ranking member of the “Bloods” street gang in New York City. Melton was convicted of ordering the attempted murder of a Raleigh man — the new boyfriend of Melton’s ex-girlfriend — and due to his long record of previous crimes, received a life sentence.
N.C. Kidnapping Victim Was Father Of D.A. Who Put Away Gang Member For Life
The FBI said that Melton orchestrated the Janssen kidnapping — and the inmate pulled it off using an unauthorized cell phone that had somehow been smuggled into his cell. Though the FBI has not publicly identified a motive, one official who asked not to be named told The Associated Press that Melton wanted to take revenge on the prosecutor who put him away.
The FBI found about Melton’s illegal cell phone and monitored his calls and messages. When they heard Melton — who exchanged at least 123 messages and calls with individuals now arrested for the kidnapping — giving orders for the kidnappers to kill Janssen, an elite FBI hostage rescue squad moved in.
They found Janssen still alive in an apartment in the New Town Circle neighborhood of southeast Atlanta and freed him.
N.C. Officials Investigate Who Gave Inmate Cell Phone Used in Kidnapping Plot
Law enforcement officials in North Carolina are investigating how the 49-year-old Melton got the cell phone he used to order and oversee the kidnapping of Janssen. But even those officials acknowledge that it is not unusual for guards to smuggle phones to inmates in exchange for bribes. Relatives of prison inmates also often manage to sneak cell phones into prisons.
Last year North Carolina prison officials confiscated 747 cell phones from inmates. But Melton had been caught with phones twice before, as well as with weapons, and was supposed to be under “maximum control” conditions.
Janssen Tasered, Abducted From Home In Wake Forest, N.C.
The kidnapping drama started Saturday morning when a person the FBI described as “a heavy set white female” knocked on Janssen’s door. When he answered, a group of men attacked him, physically assaulting him and shooting him with a taser. They threw him into a vehicle and drove him 400 miles from North Carolina to Atlanta where he was held captive.
The kidnappers sent photographs of Janssen to his wife in North Carolina, threatening to “send him 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 kidnappers also threatened to “do drive by and gun down everybody” and to “throw a grenade in your window.” They made demands with regard to the treatment of Melton, but the FBI has not specified what those were.
Inmate Heard Apparently Ordering Murder, Burial Of N.C. Kidnapping Victim
The FBI finally rescued Janssen after intercepting a call from Melton ordering the kidnappers to murder Janssen, first subduing him by forcing him to drink an entire bottle of Nyquil cold medicine.
The North Carolina kidnappers also discussed where to take Janssen’s body to bury it, saying, “we want to make sure it’s in a secluded area and the ground is soft so we can go 3 feet deep.”
In addition to Melton, who is already serving a life term, five others were arrested and charged in the North Carolina kidnapping.