WAKE FOREST, N.C. (AP) -- The five people accused of kidnapping a North Carolina prosecutor's father sent his wife a picture of him tied up in an Atlanta apartment and threatened to torture and dismember him, authorities said Thursday.
The father, Frank Arthur Janssen, of Wake Forest, was safely rescued late Wednesday when an elite FBI team stormed into the apartment.
John Strong, FBI special agent in charge in North Carolina, said Janssen's kidnapping was related to his daughter's prosecution of North Carolina prisoner Kelvin Melton, who is serving a life sentence for his 2012 conviction for being a habitual felon. Melton, 49, was also convicted of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.
According to a criminal complaint, a woman knocked on Janssen's door on Saturday. Several people assaulted him and someone used a stun gun on him. He was then driven to Atlanta.
On Monday, Janssen's wife, Christie, started receiving a series of text messages from a phone in Georgia. One of the texts said if law enforcement was contacted: "we will send (Mr. 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 anybody."
The messages made specific demands for the benefit of Melton, an inmate at Polk Correctional Institution in Butner, N.C., but the demands were not spelled out in the criminal complaint and authorities did not answer questions at a news conference.
A federal law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation, told The Associated Press that the kidnapping was an act of retaliation and that the communications of those involved suggested a link to the gang the Bloods. The official had been briefed on the investigation.
According to the complaint, at 12:19 a.m. Wednesday, Janssen's wife received a text photograph of him tied up in a chair: "Tomorrow we call you again an if you can not tell me where my things are at tomorrow i will start torchering."
On Thursday in Atlanta, outside the apartment complex, several residents described hearing a loud boom that startled them. Two mangled, charred doors lay in a courtyard area in front of one of the townhomes.
The two-story townhomes with brick and wood siding are next-door to a federal penitentiary, and the razor wire that rings the prison can be seen from the townhomes.
In Wake Forest, there was no answer Thursday at the door to a home address listed for Janssen in a quiet, upscale, golf course subdivision in Wake Forest. Authorities said the Janssen family had asked for privacy.
Stan Sasinowski, who lives across the street, said he went to the home Saturday and spoke to Janssen's brother. He said there were drops of blood leading from the front door toward the driveway.
"There were about maybe six, eight, 10 spots of, little spots of blood," Sasinowski said. "They were canvassing the neighborhood, questioning people as to what they may have seen or heard, observed."
The FBI describes its Hostage Rescue Team as a national level counterterrorist unit, offering a tactical option for any extraordinary hostage crisis or other law enforcement situation in the U.S. The FBI says the unit, established in 1983, responds to the most urgent and complex FBI cases.
Janssen's neighbors in Wake Forest praised the work of the law enforcement officers.
"I've been crying my eyes out," said Connie O'Sullivan, who lives next door, as she walked her dog. "I love him to death, and I've been praying that nothing bad happened to him."