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Crime & Law
Chilling details of how FBI rescued N.C. kidnapping victim in Atlanta
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Chilling details of how FBI rescued N.C. kidnapping victim in Atlanta

RAW: FBI news conference on elaborate kidnapping plot

Chilling details of how FBI rescued N.C. kidnapping victim in Atlanta

Criminal complaints filed Thursday give a chilling look into the kidnapping of a North Carolina man whose daughter had prosecuted a reputed gang member, how that gang member allegedly orchestrated the abduction from his maximum-security prison cell and how the FBI traced texts and cell phones to find and rescue the victim from a southeast Atlanta apartment.

Saturday morning: Frank Arthur Janssen had returned to his Wake Forest, N.C. home from a bike ride when a "heavy set white female" knocked on his door. "When Janssen opened the door, he was assaulted by several individuals who Tased and subdued him," according to the criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court against Michael Montreal Gooden, Tiana Maynard, Clifton James Roberts, Jenna Paulin Martin and Jevante Price, who are jailed in connection with the abduction.

"The individuals then forcefully removed Janssen from his home and placed him into a vehicle," the complaint states, adding that he was brought to Georgia and held against his will at an Atlanta apartment.

Monday, 1:51 a.m.: The victim's wife began to receive a series of text messages that were transmitted from a phone in Georgia, stating that Janssen had been kidnapped.

"The sender of the messages stated, among other things, that Frank Janssen was in the trunk of a car on the way to California, if law enforcement was contacted, 'we will send [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 everybody ... and throw a grenade in your window,'" the complaint said, adding that various demands must be satisfied or harm would result to Janssen.

"The sender of the messages made specific demands for the benefit of Kelvin Melton, an inmate at Polk Correctional Institution in Butner, N.C.," according to the complaint. "Melton was previously prosecuted by Frank Janssen's daughter, and at the time of these events, was serving a state sentence of life without parole."

Wednesday, 12:19 a.m.: A second demand text was sent to Janssen's wife's cell phone, from a cell phone that was transmitting from a residence in Atlanta. That text message included a photograph of Janssen tied up and seated in a chair. The sender threatened to start torturing Janssen the following day, said another individual had been kidnapped, and warned, "if we find out the police seen this we kill both people now and go for you family."

The text message came from a cell phone with a 404 area code. Records for that number included a history of 24 texts and calls to or from a cell number transmitting from the Polk Correctional Institute in North Carolina. The user of the phone that was transmitting from the prison had also made 99 calls to Melton's daughter, and Melton's girlfriend identified that number as being Melton's number.

Phone records also showed that Melton's number had made 99 contacts with another cell phone with a 770 area code between Saturday and Wednesday.

Wednesday, 8:20 p.m.: A call was placed between Melton's phone and the phone with a 770 area code. At that time, Janssen had not been located by the FBI. The two male callers made several statements during that call:

- "The first spot we are checking out is close to the house."

- "We want to make sure it's in a secluded area and the ground is soft so we can go 3 feet deep."

- "Get a bag, put it over his head, and stuff something in his mouth."

- "However you feel like doing it, just do it."

- "Make sure to clean the area up. Don't leave any DNA behind."

- "Get some night time medicine and make him go to sleep."

- "Make him drink a whole bottle of Nyquil."

- "Let's do it in the wee hours of the morning."

- "Make sure it is not a half-a--ed job. Get bleach and throw it on the walls. Maybe do it in the closet."

Following that conversation, authorities attempted to enter Melton's prison cell to search for the phone, but he barred the door and smashed the phone, according to the complaint.

At some point during the hunt for Janssen, law enforcement searched a residence on Heyford Court in Austell, "because one of the phones traced to the second threat message was linked to this address."

During that search, "the children of Tiana Maynard were taken into protective custody when it was discovered that their mother was not present," the complaint said.

Wednesday, 11:33 p.m.: A female using the cell phone with the 770 area code contacted another cell phone and stated, "they got my kids."

Thursday, 1:01 a.m.: That same phone with the 770 area code received a call from someone stating, "they just kicked in your door."

The FBI's elite Hostage Rescue Team had already made entry into an apartment at the Forest Cove complex on New Town Circle in southeast Atlanta and freed Janssen at 11:55 p.m. Wednesday. According to the complaint, Price, who agents had encountered earlier in the investigation, led the team to the apartment where Janssen was being held -- just feet from the perimeter fence of the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta.

A short time after the recovery of Janssen, Maynard went to a police precinct to collect her children. She arrived in a Chevy Tahoe driven by Roberts. Martin was also in the vehicle.

"Inside the Tahoe, officers observed picks, a shovel and a .45-caliber pistol," the complaint said.

Maynard, Roberts, Martin, Gooden and Price are in custody in Atlanta, said Don Connelly, the spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

All five suspects appeared in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Gerrilyn Brill on Thursday afternoon. A detention hearing was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday to determine if they should be held without bond. The suspects will be tried in North Carolina, authorities said.

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