A Good Samaritan rescued an abducted Minnesota teen then reportedly took the reward check and handed it to the girl.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that three men kidnapped Jasmine Block, 15, and held her captive for nearly a month before she escaped on September 5. Earl Melchert, 65, was reportedly driving back to work in Elbow Lake when he noticed something moving in the field that he first thought was a deer.
“I could make out her face, and I went, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the gal from Alexandria that’s been gone for 29 days,’” Melchert said, according to The New York Times.
“It’d been on the news, it’d been online. It went national. It was on posters, in stores, her face, her picture. Right away I recognized her.”
Melchert got Block to safety. While en route, the farmer reportedly spotted a car driven by one of the suspects—resulting in an arrest the same day.
Today we witnessed an incredible example of kindness. Earl Melchert, the man who made the call everyone was waiting for…
Police said that family acquaintance Thomas Barker, 32, had come to the teen’s home while she was alone and said he needed help with a family situation. Upon getting to Barker’s home, police say he allegedly restrained her with zip ties. For the next 29 days, Barker, along with Joshua Holby, 31, and Steven Powers, 20, allegedly physically and sexually assaulted her and threatened her with weapons, The Times reported.
Jasmine is said to have escaped when her captors went out to eat. She swam part of a lake before encountering Elchert, according to the local paper.
On Friday, the Alexandria Police Department presented Elchert with a $7,000 reward check; $2,000 was offered by the teen’s family and $5,000 had come from an anonymous donor.
Though Elchert had just retired a week earlier, he said that Block “deserved” the money and handed the check over to the teen.
“The family needs the money. To me, yeah, that’s a lot of money, but they need it way worse than I do,” Elchert said.
“What a retirement present to hand over some money to people that really need it.”
Meeting for the first time on Friday, the teen’s mother, Sarah Block, said Elchert was Jasmine’s much-needed hero that day.
“We wanted to thank him…He didn’t have to help her and he did. He risked a lot of things and put himself in danger.”
Sarah also said her daughter’s life is slowly going back to normal following the traumatic ordeal.
“Jasmine is in school and they’re adding more classes,” Sarah told the Pioneer Press.
“She has her therapy dog and is playing with her friends again. Things are looking up.”
[Featured Image: Alexandria Police Department]