CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — As the kidnappers pulled into a quiet, upscale golf course community, they thought they were about to abduct an assistant district attorney who sent a high-ranking gang member to prison for life, authorities said.
But they had the wrong address and when the prosecutor’s father answered the door, they took him instead.
For five days, authorities said the kidnappers held 63-year-old Frank Janssen captive in an Atlanta apartment, tormenting his family by sending text messages threatening to cut him into pieces if police were called or their demands weren’t met. They even sent a photo of him tied up in a chair.
On Tuesday, an indictment charged nine people in Janssen’s abduction, including 49-year-old Bloods member Kelvin Melton, who authorities said was calling the shots by cellphone from his North Carolina prison cell. Janssen’s daughter, Wake Forest assistant district attorney Colleen Janssen, prosecuted Melton in 2012 for his role in the shooting of his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend.
Court records show Melton has a long record of felony convictions in New York, the first being a 1979 robbery committed when he was 14. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and robbery in 1998 and served more than 13 years in New York prisons before being released in August 2011.
His conviction in North Carolina sent him to prison for life. Authorities said he wanted revenge.
At first, Melton wanted the kidnappers to travel to Louisiana to abduct a family member of his court-appointed attorney from his 2012 trial. He arranged in March for each member of that kidnapping team to receive about $10,000, according to the indictment, but at some point, for reasons not explained in court documents, they called it off.
In late March or early April, Melton called again. This time he wanted a team assembled to “kidnap the ADA,” who was identified in the indictment as a “Wake County Assistant District Attorney.”
One of the team members used the Internet to look up Colleen Janssen’s address but actually found her father’s home in Wake Forest, about 15 miles north of Raleigh.
Early on April 5, four of the kidnappers left the Atlanta area for North Carolina. Melton called them several times while they were on the road, at one point asking to be put on speaker phone to give them specific instructions. He told them to wear khakis and collared shirts, so they stopped at a Wal-Mart to buy clothes.
When they got to Janssen’s home, three of the kidnappers went to the door while another waited in the car, according to the indictment. When Frank Janssen cracked the door, the kidnappers forced their way in, hit him with a stun gun several times and pistol-whipped him.
As they drove back to Atlanta, Janssen was forced to lie on the floorboard of the back seat of a rental car. They put handcuffs on him and used the stun gun on him dozens of times.
The indictment doesn’t say what happened when Melton discovered they kidnapped Janssen’s father instead of the prosecutor, but two days after he was taken, Janssen’s wife started receiving the threatening text messages.
Each one seemed to grow more urgent. On April 9, Janssen’s wife received a photo of him tied up in a chair along with a message: “Tomorrow we call you again an (sic) if you can not tell me where my things are at tomorrow i will start torchering.”
The indictment said that while Janssen was in the Atlanta apartment, he was taped to a chair in a closet, and some of the kidnappers stood watch. Melton sent instructions to one member to assist in the killing and disposal of Janssen if Melton’s demands weren’t met or if the team lost contact with Melton for three days. The specific demands have not been released by authorities.
Around 8 p.m. April 9, Melton received a text saying, “We got car, spot, and shovel.” A few minutes later, Melton called the kidnappers and told them to kill Janssen and gave specific instructions not to leave any DNA behind, court documents said.
By that night, authorities had determined Melton had orchestrated the scheme and was still calling the shots behind bars. When corrections officers tried entering his cell, he smashed the phone.
Authorities pinpointed Janssen’s location and stormed the apartment just before midnight April 9. A short while later, three of the nine people charged were caught in a Chevy Tahoe that had two shovels, a pick and a gun inside.
Melton was indicted along with Quantavious Thompson, Jakym Tibbs, Tianna Maynard, Clifton Roberts, Jenna Martin, Jevante Price, Michael Gooden and Patricia Kramer. All face a federal conspiracy charge related to the abduction, and all but Kramer are charged with kidnapping.
Kramer was the only one who wasn’t in custody when the indictment was filed Tuesday. She turned herself in to the FBI in Atlanta on Wednesday.
Associated Press Writer Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.