Feds: Kidnappers went to wrong house
Posted April 22, 2014
Updated April 23, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — A team of kidnappers accused of abducting a Wake Forest man from his home earlier this month meant to take his daughter but went to the wrong house, authorities allege in court documents.
Federal indictments handed down Tuesday in the kidnapping of Frank Janssen reveal that the intended target was his daughter, Wake County Assistant District Attorney Colleen Janssen. She won a conviction two years ago against the alleged ringleader, Kelvin Melton, which put him in prison for life.
Instead, authorities said, the group assembled from behind bars by Melton obtained the wrong address from an Internet search and wound up in Wake Forest, where they used a stun gun to subdue Frank Janssen after he answered a knock on his door.
The 63-year-old was taken April 5 and rescued five days later during an FBI raid of a southeast Atlanta apartment. His rescue came just hours after the conspirators sent a text to Melton, saying “we got car, spot, and shovel,” according to court documents.
Minutes after getting the text, authorities say, Melton made a cellphone call giving specific instructions on how Janssen was to be killed and his body disposed.
According to the indictment, Melton, 49, also orchestrated another plot in March to have several of the suspects kidnap “someone with ties” to his defense attorney. The group drove from Georgia to Louisiana to carry out the plan but aborted it for unknown reasons, prosecutors say.
Along with Melton, eight others were indicted on various charges, including conspiracy to commit kidnapping. The suspects are: Quantavious Thompson, 18 or 19; Jakym Camel Tibbs, 21; Tianna Daney Maynard, 30; Jenna Martin, 21; Clifton James Roberts, 29; Patricia Ann Kramer, 28; Jevante Price, 20; and Michael Martrell Gooden, 21.
Martin, Maynard, Roberts, Price and Gooden were arrested shortly after Janssen was freed. Thompson was captured in Atlanta on Thursday, and Tibbs was captured in Pennsylvania on Monday.
Kramer was not previously identified as a suspect until she was named in the indictments. Her relationship to Melton is unclear.
The charge of conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Tuesday's indictments, made by a federal grand jury in Wilmington, offer more details about the elaborate plot and insight into Melton's role as the accused mastermind.
Melton, who is serving his life sentence at Polk Correctional Institute in Butner, allegedly arranged to pay $10,000 to four of the suspects named in the failed March kidnapping plot. He also agreed to pay Kramer, who prosecutors say assembled the team, an extra $1,000 to cover her travel expenses.
In the Frank Janssen kidnapping, Melton allegedly called the suspects and outlined the specific role for each one, telling them to wear khakis and collared shirts to carry out the plan.
Tibbs and Thompson are accused of using the stun gun on Janssen and pistol whipping him into submission. His hands were zip-tied and he was put into the back of a Nissan Versa, where he was forced to lay on the floor.
"During the entire trip back to Georgia, Thompson and Tibbs remained in the back seat with their feet on the victim's body," prosecutors said in the indictment.
They said Melton dictated what the suspects should say in text messages to Janssen's wife. The texts included a photo of Janssen tied up and seated in a chair and statements that he would be sent back to the family in six boxes and that other family members would be kidnapped and tortured if she contacted police.
Authorities zeroed in on Janssen's location about four hours after Melton allegedly called the kidnappers and told them how to kill the victim.
The next morning, officers stopped Maynard, Roberts and Martin in a blue truck containing two shovels, a pick and a firearm.
Colleen Janssen won a conviction against Melton in October 2012 in a case involving a plan to kill a Raleigh man who was dating Melton's ex-girlfriend.
The target in that plot was shot in the head and hand but survived.
A Wake County jury acquitted Melton of attempted murder and criminal conspiracy, but he was found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and received a life sentence as a violent habitual felon.
Melton's criminal record dates to 1979 and includes convictions in New York for robbery and manslaughter. Court records show he is a high-ranking member of the notorious Bloods street gang.