Threatened in casino parking lot

Late last month, we reported that George Janssen, a poker player from Bad Axe, Michigan, was home safe after he was allegedly kidnapped and held for over a month. Recently, more details have come to light about what allegedly happened.

All that was known publicly a couple weeks ago was that Janssen’s family reported him missing on November 13 and on December 16, he was found bloodied with his hands bound on the side of the road. Word was that he was allegedly kidnapped in some sort of extortion scheme.

New evidence, uncovered by PokerNews via a public records request, appears to back that up. A friend told detectives from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office that the nightmare began a couple years earlier.

A few days before he was reported missing, Janssen told this friend that when he sat in his car in the parking garage of a Detroit casino after a poker tournament, “an unknown masked man pointed a gun to George’s head and demanded two million dollars.”

Janssen told the person that he did not have that kind of money, so “the man made George drive to a parking lot down the street … (where) he was met by multiple subjects who provided him with a cell phone.”

Two-year extortion scheme

At that point, the situation turned into something out of a movie. For two years, someone would contact Janssen on a cell phone provided by the suspects and give him instructions for a money drop.

When Janssen would place the money in the specific location, he would sometimes receive a new phone or a note detailing where the next drop would be. The suspects occasionally made threats that they would harm Janssen’s family, presumably if he did not comply with their demands.

Eventually, Janssen told the people that he was running out of money, so they told him there would be a final drop for $25,000. It appears that it was during this last drop that he was abducted. On November 13, the day Janssen was reported missing, a friend found his abandoned car with some $50 bills on the floor.

On December 15, the day before Janssen was found, a family contacted police to show them a hand-written letter from Janssen. It looks like Janssen coded a message in the letter to let his family know that he had been kidnapped – he made references to names of people that they do not know (nor do they have pets by those names), but the first letter of each name combined to spell out “KIDNAP.”

Detectives also investigated a car dealership Janssen owns, finding that his business account was $2 million debt and that he had “been taking out loans on vehicles that he did not have the money for,” implying that this might have been the source of the extorted funds.

The FBI is continuing to investigate.

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