CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A North Carolina prosecutor was the intended target of an elaborate kidnapping plot, but the kidnappers looked up the wrong address on the Internet and abducted the prosecutor’s father instead, according to an indictment released Tuesday.
Nine people were charged in the kidnapping of 63-year-old Frank Janssen, the father of Wake Forest assistant district attorney Colleen Janssen. Frank Janssen was abducted April 5 from his Wake Forest home and held captive for five days in Atlanta before being rescued by the FBI.
Authorities have said the kidnapping was retaliation for Colleen Janssen’s prosecution of Kelvin Melton for his involvement in a 2011 shooting. Melton, a high-ranking member of the Bloods gang, orchestrated the abduction from behind bars using a cellphone, the indictment said.
While Frank Janssen was held in Atlanta, his kidnappers called his wife and made demands to benefit Melton, but authorities have not said specifically what they were asking for. They also sent her photos of him tied to a chair along with text messages threatening to cut him into pieces if their demands weren’t met.
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.
According to the indictment, Melton initially wanted Maynard and Kramer to kidnap a family member of his court-appointed attorney from his 2012 trial in North Carolina. He instructed the pair in March to pull together a team to travel to Louisiana to carry out that kidnapping and arranged for each member of the team to receive about $10,000, the indictment said.
Kramer found the address of the intended victim online. She rented a car and the members of the kidnapping team drove to Louisiana, but for some reason that’s not explained in the indictment, they called it off.
In late March or early April, Melton again called Maynard and Kramer. This time, he wanted them to assemble a team to "kidnap the ADA," who was identified in the indictment as a "Wake County Assistant District Attorney."
Maynard looked online for Colleen Janssen’s address, but actually found her father’s.
Early on April 5, Maynard, Martin, Thompson and Tibbs 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 instruct each member of the team on their role. He told them to wear khakis and collared shirts during the abduction, so they stopped at a Walmart to buy new clothes.
When they got to Janssen’s home, Maynard waited in the car while Martin knocked on the door. Thompson and Tibbs -- one holding a handgun the other a stun gun -- stood out of view. When Janssen cracked the door, Thompson and Tibbs forced their way in, using the stun gun several times and pistol whipping him.
The indictment doesn’t say when the kidnappers figured out they had abducted Janssen’s father instead of the prosecutor.
As they drove back to Atlanta, Janssen was forced to lie on the floorboard of the back seat with a blanket over him, with Thompson and Tibbs’ feet on him. They put handcuffs on him, pistol whipped him and used the stun gun dozens of times, the indictment said.
Melton arranged for Janssen to be held in an Atlanta apartment, and called Martin to dictate a text message to be sent to Janssen’s wife, who received a series of threatening text messages beginning April 7.
While Janssen was in the apartment, he was taped to a chair in a closet, and Martin, Maynard, Thompson and Tibbs all stood watch, the indictment said. Price and Gooden also agreed to watch him, and Melton sent instructions to Roberts to assist in the killing of Janssen if Melton’s demands weren’t met or if the team lost contact with Melton for three days.
Around 8 p.m. on April 9, Melton received a text: "We got car, spot, and shovel." A few minutes later, Melton called the group and told them to kill Janssen, according to the indictment. He gave specific instructions to cover up the crime.
By the evening of April 9, authorities had determined Melton was calling the shots from his cell. When corrections officers tried entering, Melton smashed the phone.
Authorities pinpointed Janssen’s location and stormed the apartment just before midnight April 9. A short while later, Maynard, Roberts and Martin were caught in a Chevy Tahoe that had two shovels, a pick and a gun owned by Roberts inside.
Associated Press writer Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.