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Documents detail kidnapping plot of Wake prosecutor’s father

By Thomasi McDonald
tmcdonald@newsobserver.com

RALEIGH Two days after a group of people used a stun gun to immobilize and abduct the father of a Wake prosecutor from his Wake Forest home in April, the man’s family received “a threatening message from an unknown party taking credit,” according to court documents made public Wednesday.

The documents also indicate that the kidnapping victim, Frank Janssen, was pistol whipped repeatedly during the April 5 abduction and again after his captors whisked him away in a Nissan Versa, where he was placed in the floor of the backseat, covered with a blanket. While in the car, the victim’s captors used a stun gun on him “dozens of times,” federal authorities reported.

Authorities also found evidence indicating that Janssen’s kidnappers intended to murder him and bury his body.

The search warrant application, filed by Detective G.E. Powell with the Raleigh Police Department, said the kidnapping of Janssen from his home in the Heritage golf community was related to the 2012 prosecution by his daughter, Colleen Janssen, of Kelvin “Dizzy” Melton, a habitual violent felon now serving a life sentence.

Federal officials think the kidnapping was orchestrated by Melton, 49, from the Polk Correctional Institution in Butner.

The ominous message also “specifically threatened physical harm against two other people directly involved” in the 2012 case against Melton. One of those was Melton’s defense attorney, who was the target of an aborted kidnapping attempt a month before Janssen was abducted, according to court records at the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Janssen’s kidnapping sparked a four-day manhunt that led investigators to Georgia, where he was being held against his will.

2011 shooting

Nearly three years before the Janssen kidnapping, police investigated a shooting in the 900 block of South State Street near downtown Raleigh. By the investigation’s end, detectives had arrested four people, including Melton.

On Oct. 17, 2012, Melton was convicted of being a habitual violent felon and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury. Colleen Janssen, an assistant district attorney in Wake, was the prosecutor. Melton was sentenced to Polk.

Federal officials have accused Melton of using a cellphone inside the prison to communicate with others on the outside. Investigators think he first ordered the kidnapping of his 2012 defense attorney, Stephanie Davis of Raleigh.

Investigators say Melton communicated with two women, Tianna Maynard and Patricia Kramer, in March and instructed them to assemble a team to kidnap Davis. Each member of the team was to receive $10,000, but the plot was aborted, federal authorities reported.

Davis declined to comment Wednesday.

One month later, federal investigators said Melton spoke again with Martin and ordered her to assemble a team to kidnap Frank Janssen.

Text messages

On April 7, two days after the kidnapping, Melton ordered another accused co-conspirator, Jenna Martin, to send a text message to Janssen’s wife that stated if she contacted law enforcement, “we will send him 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 and we will do a drive-by and gun down everybody in your family and we will throw grenades in your window,” according to federal court records.

A second text message was sent on April 9 that included a photo of Janssen tied up in a chair and seated in a closet, federal investigators reported.

A third text message was sent by the accused kidnappers to Melton a day later. “We got car, spot and shovel,” the message stated, according to federal court documents.

Melton called the team later that night and ordered them to murder Janssen, federal records show.

Federal agents rescued Janssen just before midnight from an Atlanta apartment. Maynard, Martin and a third person, Clifton James Roberts, were apprehended in the early morning hours of April 10 while traveling in a Chevy Tahoe. Federal agents found two shovels, a pick and a firearm inside the vehicle, federal records show.

Investigators used the search warrant they obtained three days after the kidnapping to gather information from six mobile phones. The items were first seized as evidence after the 2011 shooting. The phones have remained in police custody, according to the search warrant.

Now, police are hoping electronic data that investigators culled from the phones “will further demonstrate a correlation between the shooting case from 2011 and the events currently under investigation,” Powell stated in the court affidavit.

In addition to Melton, Martin, Kramer, Maynard and Roberts, four more people are facing federal charges as a result of the kidnapping, said Don Connelly, a spokesman with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. They are: Quantavious Thompson, Jakym Camel Tibbs, Jevante Price and Michael Martell Gooden.

McDonald: 919-829-4533
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