Criminal Justice

Elite FBI team rescues prosecutor's dad from kidnappers in Atlanta

Updated: The father of a North Carolina prosecutor was abducted from his Wake Forest home last week in retaliation for her work on a prison inmate’s case, authorities say.

Frank Arthur Janssen, 63, was rescued Wednesday night in Atlanta by an elite FBI team after being held for five days. His kidnappers are accused of sending his wife a photo of him tied up there and threatening to torture and kill him and other members of the family, according to the Associated Press, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Good Morning America and WRAL.

“He spent five nights in the hands of a group of very dangerous people,” said John Strong, special agent in charge of the Charlotte division of the FBI. “We can only imagine the uncertainty, confusion and fear he experienced.”

Strong said “specific demands” were received by Janssen’s family during the ordeal that were intended to benefit an inmate serving a life term who was prosecuted by Janssen’s daughter, but did not elaborate. She is not identified by name in the articles, but WRAL says she is an assistant district attorney in Wake County, N.C. who prosecutes drug and gang cases.

Andre Hatcher was visiting family at the Atlanta apartment complex on Wednesday night as at least 20 members of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue team, wearing night vision goggles, arrived. “We heard a boom, the flash bang, and saw the SWAT team go around front,” he told the AJC, adding “They looked military.”

Five unidentified suspects, all in their 20s, were arrested in Atlanta and have been charged with kidnapping.

WRAL reports that Strong said Kelvin Melton is the inmate on whose behalf the kidnappers made demands. He is serving a life term at Polk Correctional Institution in Butner after being convicted in 2012 of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and being a habitual felon.

A federal criminal complaint says Melton himself has been sending Janssen’s family text messages from prison. (Authorities are investigating to determine how Melton was able to obtain a cellphone in prison, as a subsequent post discusses.)

Strong withheld some details because the case is still under investigation.

Updated at 3:54 p.m. to correct the spelling of Kelvin Melton’s name and on April 14 to include information from a subsequent post.

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.