Kidnappers targeted a North Carolina man, holding him captive for five days, because his daughter put one of their friends behind bars, federal authorities said.
The five suspected kidnappers are in custody, and Frank Arthur Janssen is now free following the ordeal. Janssen, a 63-year-old military contractor, was assaulted and snatched from his doorstep on April 5. The kidnappers tasered him, stuffed him into a car and drove over 400 miles to Atlanta.
Janssen’s wife started receiving text messages two days later from a mobile phone in Georgia. One of the texts said if law enforcement was contacted, “we will send (Mr. Janssen) 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.”
The messages included specific demands for the benefit of Kelvin Melton, who is serving a life sentence for ordering the shooting of a man in 2011. Melton was previously prosecuted by Janssen’s daughter, an assistant district attorney.
Another text message that Janssen’s wife received showed a text photograph of Janssen tied up in a chair along with the message: “Tomorrow we call you again an if you can not tell me where my things are at tomorrow i will start torchering."
Authorities tracked the mobile phones and listened to the calls. They realized Melton had a mobile phone in his cell and was exchanging calls and text messages with the alleged kidnappers.
The calls were eventually traced to an apartment complex in Atlanta.
The FBI’s elite hostage rescue team moved in, rescuing Janssen, and placing five people in custody. Those charged with aggravated kidnapping include: Jenna Paulin Martin; Tiana Maynard; Jevante "Flame" Price; Michael "Hot" Montreal Gooden and Clifton James Roberts. According to prison records, Melton is being held on “maximum control” status.
Authorities are now investigating how Melton got the phone.
ABC News consultant Brad Garrett, a former FBI special agent, said many prisons have turned to cell phone jamming to try and stop the use of cell phones behind bars.
“The sheer brazenness of it is shocking, and the idea that people who are incarcerated can threaten and commit crimes like this, it’s outrageous,” Garrett said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.