WAKE FOREST: How the FBI saved NC man from kidnappers - WNCN: News, Weather

Timeline: How the FBI saved Wake Forest man from kidnappers

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Frank Janssen Frank Janssen
Kelvin Melton Kelvin Melton
WAKE FOREST, N.C. -

Wake Forest’s Frank Janssen, 63, was freed from kidnappers in a dramatic rescue Wednesday night in Atlanta. Here’s a timeline of the events that led to his release.

Saturday, April 5

Frank Janssen disappears from his home. For 24 hours, police and family puzzle over why there are blood stains on front steps.

Monday, April 7

1:51 a.m.: Janssen’s wife, Christie, gets the first text messages indicating it’s a kidnapping—and demanding the family not notify police or “we will do a drive-by” and “throw a grenade in your window.”

But the text helps law enforcement officers connect the disappearance to inmate Kelvin Melton, who is held in Butner. Melton, a member of the Bloods gang, has a criminal record dating back to 1979 and was prosecuted by Wake County assistant district attorney Colleen Janssen, the daughter of Frank Janssen.

Wednesday, April 9

12:19 p.m.: Janssen's family gets a text photo of Frank Janssen tied to a chair with the message “if you cannot tell me where my things are tomorrow — I will start torturing Janssen.”

The text is from a cell phone in Atlanta.

Records indicate that phone and others were being monitored as they called back and forth to each other as well as to a cellphone at the Polk Correctional Institution in Butner where Melton was incarcerated.

8:20 p.m.: A call between Melton’s phone and one in Georgia reveal plans being made to kill Frank Janssen, digging a “3-foot deep grave”, “putting a bag over his head and stuffing something in his mouth” and making sure “no DNA is left behind.”

Shortly thereafter Melton bars the doors to his cell and destroys his cellphone.

10:40 p.m.: FBI Wiretaps on Georgia phones indicate panic by suspects. A Voice says “FBI choppers are outside” and “we gotta get rid of Holmes.”

11:33 p.m.: FBI teams close in. A woman says: “They got my kids.” A man replies, “Did they find Holmes at the place?” Answer: “I don’t know.”

Shortly afterward, Janssen is rescued

Thursday, April 10

11 a.m.: Federal and state officials detail Janssen’s capture and release in a dramatic news conference. Officials say five people are facing federal kidnapping charges.


Steve Sbraccia

Steve is an award-winning reporter for WNCN and former assistant professor. A seasoned professional, Steve is proud to call the Triangle home since 2005 after over two decades in Boston, Mass.  More>>

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