The father of a North Carolina prosecutor who authorities said was kidnapped for “retaliatory” reasons was rescued unharmed in Atlanta after a raid by an elite FBI hostage-rescue unit, authorities said.
During his five-day ordeal, Frank Arthur Janssen, 63, was tied up in a suburban Atlanta apartment while the group suspected in his kidnapping sent his wife a picture of him tied up, with threats to torture and dismember him, authorities said Thursday. Janssen was kidnapped Saturday from his home in Wake Forest, N.C.
John Strong, special agent in charge of the FBI's Charlotte, N.C., office, told reporters Thursday that Jannsen was rescued late Wednesday when the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team stormed the apartment.
Five people have been arrested and charged in the kidnapping: Jenna Paulin Martin, 21; Tiana Maynard, 30; Jevante Price, 20; Michael Montreal Gooden, 21; and Clifton James Roberts, 29.
Authorities say the kidnapping took place after Janssen’s daughter, an assistant district attorney in Wake County, N.C., prosecuted Kelvin Melton, a reputed high-ranking gang member now serving a sentence of life without parole in a North Carolina prison.
“I can tell you that Mr. Janssen was targeted by a group as part of an elaborate kidnapping plot," Strong said at a televised news conference. “Specific demands were sent to Mr. Janssen's family for the benefit of Kelvin Melton.”
Authorities said a woman knocked on Janssen's door Saturday in an upscale neighborhood in Wake Forest. He was assaulted with a stun gun and driven to Atlanta.
Within days, Janssen’s wife began receiving text messages from a phone in Atlanta making demands. One message warned that if she contacted police, her husband would be sent “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.”
She also received a photograph of him tied up in a chair: “Tomorrow we call you again an if you can not tell me where my things are at tomorrow i will start torchering.”
On Thursday, following the raid, several residents of the southeast Atlanta apartment complex told the Associated Press that they heard a loud boom overnight at the complex, which is located next door to a federal penitentiary. Two doors to the unit lay in the courtyard Thursday morning looking mangled and charred, the Associated Press reported.
The FBI’s Hostage Rescue team is described as a “national level counter terrorist unit” that responds to “the most urgent and complex FBI cases in the U.S. and abroad.”
Strong said Janssen looked forward to being reunited with his family. He is receiving medical care at a hospital in Atlanta, officials said in a release Thursday.
He “spent five nights in the hands of a group of very dangerous people,” Strong said. “We can only imagine the uncertainty, confusion and fear he experienced.”
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