It started in October of 2012, when Wake County Assistant District Attorney Colleen Janssen prosecuted a case against Kelvin Melton for assault with a deadly weapon. Previously identified as a leader in the Bloods street gang, Kelvin had a long rap sheet, and this final conviction put him away for life without parole. When Kelvin’s final appeal was shot down, he decided to retaliate against the prosecutor.
From his prison cell, Kelvin began planning to kidnap the District Attorney’s father. Using a contraband cell phone that was somehow smuggled in to him, he coordinated with at least five other people. On April 5th, a woman knocked on Frank Janssen’s front door. The DA’s father was then shocked with a taser and kidnapped.
When Frank Janssen was discovered to have gone missing, his wife reported it to the police and an APB was issued. On Monday night, Frank’s wife began receiving text messages from the kidnappers, stating that Frank was locked in a car trunk. The kidnappers texted: “We will send [him] back to you in six boxes and every chance we get we will take someone in your family to Italy and torture them and kill them … we will drive by and gun down anybody” and “throw a grenade in your window.”
The demands the kidnappers gave in exchange for the safe release of Frank Janssen were that all charges be dropped against Kelvin Melton. The local police informed the FBI, as they believed that they were dealing with a kidnapping that crossed state lines, a felony offense which would involve the federal government. Furthermore, a case like this was an attempt by criminals to hold the US justice system hostage by intimidating the DA who prosecuted Kelvin.
Just after midnight on Wednesday night, Frank’s wife received another text message that included a photo of her husband tied to a chair. The kidnappers stated that if their demands were not met, they would begin torturing Frank, kill him, and then kidnap other family members. The cell phone the kidnappers used was traced to Atlanta, Georgia.
The FBI not only looked at the cell phone used by the kidnappers to threaten Frank’s wife, but also at other calls that the kidnapper’s cell phone made. One of those calls was to Kelvin Milton’s cell phone in Polk Correctional Facility. Based on this evidence, the FBI began monitoring the cell phone traffic between the kidnappers and Kelvin. The following conversation was recorded Wednesday night:
“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 ft 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.”
“Get some night-time medicine and make him go to sleep.”
“Make him drink a whole bottle of Nyquil.”
“Let’s do it in the wee hours of the morning.”
“Make sure it is not a half-assed job. Get bleach and throw it on the walls. Maybe do it in the closet.”
By conducting cellular phone traffic analysis, the FBI was able to identify the kidnappers and vector in on the location where Frank Janssen was being held. During this time, the authorities moved in on one of the kidnapping suspects who was not at the location where Frank was being held and arrested her. She admitted to being a part of the kidnapping plot and led the FBI to Frank’s exact location.
With the kidnappers getting skittish, the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team executed a hostage rescue operation to recover Frank in the early morning hours of April 10th. After explosively breaching the door of the residential apartment, Frank was successfully recovered and the kidnappers arrested. The five suspects arrested included: Jenna Paulin Martin, 21; Tiana Maynard, 20; Jevante Price; Michael Montreal Gooden, 21; and Clifton James Roberts, 19.
All five defendants were initially charged under 18 U.S. Code § 1201(a)(1) & (c) Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping, and each can receive sentences up to life in prison without parole.
The successful rescue of Frank Janssen is another in a series of high-profile victories for the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team. With a checkered past marred by incidents like Ruby Ridge and Waco, HRT has since come into their own and put past tragedies behind them. Not only has HRT been to combat with US Special Operations Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to assist in the collection of evidence that helped put insurgents behind bars, but recent actions taken domestically in the United States highlight why HRT was formed.
Last year, HRT’s Blue and Gold teams successfully rescued a boy who had been taken hostage and held in an underground bunker in Alabama. HRT also participated in the capture of the Boston bombers after improvised explosive devices killed three people and injured several hundred.
(Featured Image Courtesy: FBI)