Man Saves Kidnapped Girl, Returns Rescue Money to Family

December 20, 2017 Last Updated: December 20, 2017

A man who helped rescue a missing Minnesota teen ended up with a reward of $7,000. Instead of keeping it, he gave it to the girl’s family.

Melchert, 65, was given the reward money for finding 15-year-old Jasmine Block, of Alexandria, who went missing on Aug. 8. During her disappearance, she was abused and beaten by her captors, according to the Star-Tribune.

“I was not interested in the $7,000 reward, it wasn’t a big deal,” Melchert told the paper. “I wanted to give it to the family. They need it more. It went to a good place. I hope Jasmine is OK.”

On the day he found her, Melchert, a hunter, saw a dark spot in a grassy field in Barrett, Minnesota. At first, when it started moving, he thought it was a deer, but as it got closer, he realized it was a girl walking toward him. And not just any girl.

(Help bring Jasmine Block home Facebook)

“It was, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the girl from Alexandria that has been missing,'” Melchert recalled. “I’d seen her picture on the internet, in newspapers, in bulletins and on signs. I recognized her right way.”

When he approached her, she was “frantic and crying.”

“I got dispatch on the line and told them I had the Block girl in my pickup and that she is alive and looks fine,” Melchert said. “There was silence [on the other end], like it was a dropped call. Then they said, ‘Don’t get off the line, don’t hang up. We’ll send help.’ ”

Jasmine was located by the Alexandria Police Department on the night of Tuesday, Sept. 5, and she was transported to a nearby hospital for minor injuries, NBC News reported at the time.

Three suspects were arrested in her disappearance. They were later identified as Thomas Barker, 32; Joshua Holby, 31; and Steven Powers, 20, according to the WCCO-TV.

Thomas Barker, Joshua Holby, and Steven Powers are accused of holding the girl captive for a month. She escaped when they left her alone. (Alexandria Police Department)

“Barker tied her up with zip ties and then he, his roommate, and friend over the next several weeks assaulted her and threatened her with weapons,” Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels told the station.

According to a police update, she had been left alone for the first time when she escaped on Tuesday.

Officials said she then swam across Thompson Lake. There, she ran to a farm, and a man called 911.

On the way to the police station, Block was able to identify the vehicle of her kidnapper. Police gave chase and arrested one of the suspects.

“This is an unbelievable young woman,” Wyffels added. “She has a lot of strength. We think a lot of her and her family. They’re all amazing people.”