ATLANTA (Reuters) - Five people charged with kidnapping a North Carolina prosecutor’s father in an elaborate plot orchestrated by an imprisoned gang member were ordered held without bail at a detention hearing on Tuesday, U.S. officials said.
Frank Arthur Janssen, 63, was rescued by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in Atlanta last week, four days after being snatched from his home in Wake Forest, North Carolina and held hostage.
Janssen’s daughter was the assistant district attorney who prosecuted gang member Kelvin Melton in a case that sent him to prison for life without parole as a violent habitual felon in 2012, law enforcement officials said.
Melton was charged on Friday in the kidnapping plot and accused of giving his five co-conspirators instructions on how to kill Janssen and dispose of his body, according to a statement from U.S. prosecutors.
Melton, 49, sent the directives from his prison cell in Butner, North Carolina, using a contraband cellphone, prosecutors said.
The five people accused of carrying out the abduction are Jenna Paulin Martin, 21; Tiana Maynard, 30; Jevante Price, 20; Michael Montreal Gooden, 21; and Clifton James Roberts, 29.
A judge denied them bail at a hearing in Atlanta, a prosecution spokesman said. They will be tried in North Carolina. If convicted, each faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
After snatching Janssen from his home on April 5, the kidnappers sent threatening text messages to his wife and said he would be tortured and dismembered if their demands, which were not disclosed, went unmet, according to officials.
Reporting by David Beasley; Additional reporting and writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis