Posted Apr 23, 2014 02:45 pm CDT
The father of a North Carolina prosecutor abducted from his home earlier this month was kidnapped by mistake, says a federal indictment filed Tuesday.
The defendants intended to kidnap the prosecutor who earlier put the alleged ringleader of the abduction plot in prison for life, but got her father instead when they went to the wrong home, the indictment says, charging nine individuals with a role in the claimed plot. Federal prosecutors say a public defender for Kevin Melton was also targeted for abduction, but that plot was abandoned in March, the News & Observer reports.
The indictment says kidnap victim Frank Janssen was pistol-whipped and an electronic stun gun was used on him repeatedly as he was taken from Wake Forest, N.C., to Atlanta. He was held over a five-day period before an elite FBI team rescued him from an Atlanta apartment as his abductors were making plans to kill him, authorities said.
A receipt from a fast-food restaurant at which the alleged kidnap crew stopped en route to North Carolina was found by investigators at Janssen’s home. It helped lead authorities to the suspects, along with a trail of texts to Janssen’s wife threatening to harm him, news reports say.
All but one of the nine suspects are charged with kidnapping and abetting a kidnapping and face potential life prison terms if convicted. Eight suspects are in custody. The ninth, Patricia Kramer, 29, who is not charged with kidnapping or abetting, is accused of funding two kidnapping trips and sending other suspects to two wrong addresses, based on faulty Internet research, the Observer says.
Melton is accused of orchestrating the abduction of Janssen, using a contraband cellphone that had been smuggled into his prison cell. How he allegedly got that phone remains under investigation.
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