Man Saves Missing Teen. Then, Another 'Act of Kindness'
Earl Melchert gave his $7K reward to the girl he saved
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 9, 2017 10:12 AM CDT
From left, suspects Thomas Barker, Steven Powers, and Joshua Holby.   (Douglas County Sheriff's Office, via Twin Cities Pioneer Press)
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(Newser) – Two heroes have emerged in Minnesota: an abducted 15-year-old girl and the 65-year-old farmer who found her. Fox News and the Twin Cities Pioneer Press report Jasmine Block disappeared from her Alexandria home on Aug. 8, and she was reportedly held for nearly a month in an abandoned house, where she says she was physically and sexually assaulted. On Sept. 5, however, she broke out, swam across a lake, and started running when she got to the other side. It was then that Jasmine ran into Earl Melchert, who said he saw a "speck" rushing toward him in his truck; he tells the New York Times he thought it was a deer at first. As she got closer, he realized it wasn't a deer, but a missing girl he recognized from newscasts and posters around town. He got Jasmine into his truck, called 911, and started driving the teen to the local police station.

As they drove, Jasmine saw a car driven by one of the suspects, which helped cops catch them the same day. But it was Melchert's next "incredible act of kindness," as the Alexandria Police Department notes on Facebook, that brought on even more hugs: He turned down the $7,000 reward and gave it to Jasmine instead. "He believes that young lady that came running towards him that September day is the real hero," the Alexandria PD notes, adding, "Thank you Earl, it is people like you that make this world a better place." Melchert tells the Press he was simply "in the right place at the right time." Jasmine is back in school and healing with the help of a therapy dog, while the three suspects—Thomas Barker, 32, a family acquaintance, as well as Joshua Holby, 31, and Steven Powers, 20—have been charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment, assault, and criminal sexual conduct.

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