FBI Rescues NC Kidnap Victim in Atlanta
Authorities say five people have been charged in the kidnapping of the father of a North Carolina prosecutor.
The father, Frank Arthur Janssen, of Wake Forest, was rescued from an Atlanta apartment late Wednesday.
John Strong, FBI special agent in charge in North Carolina, says Janssen’s kidnapping was related to his daughter’s prosecution of North Carolina prisoner Kelvin Melton, who is serving a life sentence for his 2012 conviction for being a habitual felon. He was also convicted of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.
Authorities say Janssen’s kidnappers threatened to torture him and sent text messages to his wife making demands. They also sent her a picture of her husband tied up.
Authorities did not say what the demands were.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. HERE IS THE EARLIER STORY:
A North Carolina man reported missing from his home days ago was the target of a kidnapping plot, and he was rescued Wednesday from an apartment complex in Atlanta, the FBI said Thursday.
An elite FBI team safely rescued Frank Arthur Janssen shortly before noon Wednesday, FBI spokeswoman Shelley Lynch said in a statement.
Outside the complex Thursday morning, several residents gathered at the scene described a loud boom that had startled them. Moments after sunrise, three officers wearing body armor left the complex of townhomes in SUVs, but several federal agents remained in the area.
Two mangled, charred doors lay in a courtyard area in front of one of the townhomes. Through the space where the doors once were, a washer and dryer and kitchen area were visible.
The two-story townhomes with brick and wood siding are next-door to a federal penitentiary, and the razor wire that rings the prison can be seen from the townhomes.
More than half a dozen federal agents were still at the scene about 8 a.m. Most were FBI agents; one was with the Department of Homeland Security.
Janssen was reported missing April 5 from his Wake Forest, N.C., home, according to the FBI. There was no answer Thursday at the door to a home address listed for Janssen in a quiet, upscale, golf course subdivision.
An investigation by the FBI, Wake Forest police and other law enforcement agencies had determined that Janssen had been the victim of a kidnapping and was being held in the apartment complex in Atlanta’s southeast section, the FBI said.
The statement said Janssen’s family was notified of Janssen’s rescue after the team freed the man at about 11:55 p.m. Wednesday. The FBI said the family looked forward to being reunited with him but that no further details were being released early Thursday amid what the agency described as an “active and ongoing” investigation.
Lynch told AP by phone early Thursday that she had no additional information to immediately release on the rescue and how it was carried out, a possible kidnapping motive or whether anyone had been hurt in the rescue or arrests made. She said a news conference was planned later Thursday in Wake Forest, N.C., by law enforcement officials.
The FBI describes its Hostage Rescue Team on the agency website as a national level counterterrorist unit, offering a tactical option for any extraordinary hostage crisis or other law enforcement situation in the U.S. The FBI says the unit, established in 1983, responds to the most urgent and complex FBI cases.
Associated Press writer Allen G. Breed contributed to this report from Wake Forest, N.C.