Police in Minnesota held a ceremony to reward a man who helped rescue a teenage girl who had been kidnapped and held captive for almost a month.
Melchert found 15-year-old Jasmine Block on September 5 after she escaped from an abandoned house following a almost month-long harrowing ordeal during which she was held against her will and repeatedly assaulted by three men, authorities said.
"I look at Earl as a hero", Wyffels said to the girl and her family in the presentation of the reward.
Although some news sources have identified the 15-year-old girl, The Washington Post is withholding her name because she is the victim of alleged sexual assault.
The girl told police that she'd escaped from an abandoned house, near Melchert's property, where the three suspects allegedly kept her for the previous few days.
As Melchert drove Jasmine to the authorities, she spotted a auto driven by one of the three men now charged in the case, leading to their arrests the same day she was found. He told her he needed help with a family situation, Richard Wyffels, the Alexandria police chief, said at a news conference.
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Melchert gave it to Block.
Upon seeing her face, Melchert said he immediately recognized her as Jasmine Block, a girl reported missing after being abducted from her home in August, the Pioneer Press reported.
Jasmine is said to have escaped when her captors went out to eat.
"The family needs the money". "To me, yeah, that's a lot of money, but they need it way worse than I do". "She has her therapy dog and is playing with her friends again".
Speaking out about her ordeal, Jasmine Block told Fox 9 News: 'I was usually in a closet and I usually stayed quiet because I was scared they might hit me or do something'. We wanted to thank him.
"I want to help people now", he said. "You guys deserve it, and I think it's going to the best place it can go".
At that point, Barker allegedly drove her to his home, where "he restrained her with zip ties, repeatedly assaulted her and threatened her with weapons", police said.
Police arrested Thomas Barker, 32, Steven Powers, 20, and Joshua Holby, 31, last month and detained them on charges of kidnapping, false imprisonment and assault.