Local News

Wake Forest kidnapping victim writes letter thanking rescuers, community

Posted April 29, 2014 5:21 p.m. EDT
Updated April 29, 2014 5:45 p.m. EDT

Frank Janssen

— Frank Janssen, the Wake Forest man who was kidnapped and held hostage for five days, released a three-page letter Tuesday thanking the team of officers that rescued him from an Atlanta apartment.

He said the coordinated effort was “nothing short of a miracle” that resulted from hard work by a number of agencies.

“The past few weeks have been surreal,” he wrote in the letter released through his daughter, Wake County Assistant District Attorney Colleen Janssen. “Never in a million years would I have imagined being a kidnapping victim. After all, who could even think that I was worth a hoot! However, despite the nightmare that I experienced, the fact that I am writing this letter from the comfort of my home is a testament to the many wonderful things that were done by many wonderful people.”

A group of kidnappers took Janssen, 63, from his home April 5 in an elaborate plot that authorities said was orchestrated by Kelvin Melton, a prisoner at Polk Correctional Institution in Butner.

According to a federal indictment, the intended target was Colleen Janssen, who secured the conviction that put Melton behind bars for life. But the kidnappers obtained the wrong address and wound up at her father’s house instead.

During the ordeal, Frank Janssen was subdued with a stun gun and pistol whipped. His hands were zip-tied, and he was forced to lie on the floor of a car with the kidnappers’ feet on his body.

Cellphone calls and texts between Melton and the suspects helped authorities zero in on Janssen’s location in Atlanta. He was rescued hours after Melton allegedly called his conspirators and told them how to kill and dispose of Janssen, according to court documents.

Melton and eight others are facing various charges in the case, including conspiracy to commit kidnapping.

“First and foremost, my wife, Christie, and I want to acknowledge that the terrible crime our family has endured over the past couple of weeks has affected not only us, but our entire community,” Janssen wrote in the letter, which was addressed to “neighbors and friends.”

“We realize how upsetting and disturbing this act was for all our neighbors who, for obvious reasons, were left in the dark as the authorities did their jobs. To the many of you – some of whom we do not even know personally – that sent us your good thoughts and prayers, we have been overwhelmed by your kindness and compassion. Your prayers and well-wishes were out of this world!”

Janssen also appealed for patience and understanding as the family works to return to normal. He went on to say that he never felt a greater sense of joy or relief than when he heard the words, “Mr. Janssen, we are here to take you home.”

“Every bone and fiber in my body was instantaneously overcome by a feeling of gratitude that was simply unequalled to any emotion I have ever experienced,” he wrote.

At the end of the letter, Janssen urges residents to vote for the next Wake County district attorney, regardless of political party. Longtime District Attorney Colon Willoughby retired last month, opening the field to a number of candidates.

Four Republicans and two Democrats are vying for their party’s nominations in the May 6 primary.