A community is praising a man who helped rescue an abducted teen, then donated the reward money to her family.
Earl Melchert came back to his Minnesota home early on September 5 to pick up something he forgot. While there, he spotted a teenage girl cutting through his property. It didn’t take him long to recognize her as Jasmine Block, 15, who had been missing for 29 days.
“When she came walking out of the grass, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh. You’ve got to be kidding me,'” Melchert told WCCO.
According to police, Block disappeared from her Alexandria, Minnesota home on Aug. 8. They said she was lured away by family acquaintance Thomas Barker, 32. He took her to his home, bound her with zip ties and assaulted her for the next 29 days. Police say two other men, Joshua Holby, 31, and Steven Powers, 20, also assaulted her.
On September 5, Block managed to escape when all three men left the house to get food. According to police, she swam across a lake to get away and ended up on Melchert’s property. She ran to him when she spotted him and he called police.
On Friday, the Alexandria Police Department presented Melchert with the $7,000 reward money for his help in the case. Instead of keeping the money for himself, he handed it over to Block and her family.
“He believes that young lady that came running towards him that September day is the real hero and without hesitation, Earl handed the reward over to her, followed by a big hug,” the police department wrote on Facebook. “Thank you Earl, it is people like you that make this world a better place.”