The elite FBI rescue team that rescued a North Carolina man from a five-day kidnapping ordeal acted with urgency after officials learned captors had discussed how to kill their hostage in the "wee hours of the morning," according to a federal affidavit.
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The FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team banged down two doors and rescued Frank Arthur Janssen, 63, from the New Town Circle apartment complex in southeast Atlanta just before midnight.
Janssen was targeted because of his daughter’s work as a prosecutor, John Strong, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Charlotte division, said at a news conference today.
Strong said specific demands were made by Janssen's captors on behalf of Kelvin Melton, an inmate at the Polk Correctional Institution in Butner, N.C., who is serving a life sentence without parole.
Authorities remained tight-lipped during the five-day ordeal so they didn’t aggravate the kidnappers, however an affidavit released today reveals the horror the Janssen family experienced and how close the five captors came to killing their hostage.
The nightmare began on Saturday, April 5, when Janssen answered a knock at the door of his Wake Forest, N.C. home.
When Janssen opened the door, authorities said he was assaulted by several people who tasered him, put him in a car and drove him across state lines to Atlanta.
On Monday morning, Janssen’s wife, Christie received a series of text messages indicating that her husband had been kidnapped and that the captors would send her husband back to her in “six boxes” if she called the police, the affidavit said.
“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” and “throw a grenade in your window,” the threats continued.
The situation became dire on Wednesday when Janssen received a photo of her husband tied up and seated in a chair and authorities learned the captors planned to kill him in a matter of hours, the affidavit said.
Investigators said a call was placed from Melton’s prison cell phone on Wednesday apparently advised a man the other end of the line on how to dispose of Janssen.
“Let’s do it in the wee hours of the morning,” a man said.
The callers discussed making the hostage “drink a whole bottle of Nyquil,” putting a bag over his head and stuffing something in his mouth, according to the affidavit.
“Make sure it is not a half-assed job. Get bleach and throw it on the walls. Maybe do it in a closet,” one man said before the call ended.
After the conversation, authorities tried to enter Melton’s cell, however he briefly barred the door, according to the affidavit, and smashed his cell phone.
At 10:40 p.m., authorities listening into a call said they heard a captor say, “FBI helicopters are outside. We got to get rid of holmes.”
A little more than an hour later, Janssen was whisked to safety by the FBI and has since received medical care and reunited with his family, Strong said.
“He spent five nights in the hands of a group of very dangerous people. We can only imagine the uncertainty, confusion and fear he experienced,” Strong said.
Three men and two women, ranging in age from 20 to 29, were arrested during the raid and face federal kidnapping charges, according to the affidavit.
The FBI’s Hostage Rescue team, which conducted the rescue, is described on its website as a “national level counterterrorist unit” that responds to “the most urgent and complex FBI cases in the U.S. and abroad.” The unit is part of the Tactical Support Branch of the FBI's Critical Incident Response Group and is based in Quantico, Va.