NBC News reports a Minnesota teenager who’s been missing for nearly a month is safely back with her family after surviving a harrowing ordeal.
On the night of August 8, 15-year-old Jasmine Block went missing from her home in Alexandria, 2 hours north of Minneapolis. On Tuesday, she was found running through a field after being left alone by the men who kidnapped her, one of whom was a family acquaintance.
Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels related the details of Block’s abduction and rescue during a news conference Wednesday, according to Minnesota’s Star Tribune. On the night of August 8, she was approached by family friend Thomas Barker, 32, who “tricked her” into going with him to his mobile home. Once inside, he bound her with zip ties, and physically and sexually assaulted her, as did his roommate, 31-year-old Joshua Holby.
The assaults continued over the next several weeks, as Barker and Holby kept her in a closet in their home, threatened her with weapons and fed her Taco Bell and other fast food. Two weeks into her abduction, 20-year-old Steven Powers visited the mobile home and also began taking part in Block’s abuse.
While family, friends and local authorities continued their search for her, Jasmine Block’s captors decided to move her to various locations, ultimately taking her to a foreclosed property in rural Grant County. On Tuesday, the three men went into town to eat, leaving Block alone for the first time since her abduction. She saw this as her opportunity to escape.
According to CBS Minnesota, Chief Wyffels said Jasmine “bravely ran from door to door of nearby properties trying to find someone to help.” When she could find no one, she swam across a lake to another area where she hoped she would find someone.
A local farmer, who asked not to be identified, saw her running through his field and recognized her from news reports about her dissappearence. “When she come walking out of the grass I’m thinking, 'Oh my gosh, you got to be kidding me,'” he told CBS Minnesota. “When I saw her face I knew right away.”
The farmer called 911 and while driving Block to the Elbow Lake Police Department she spotted one of her kidnapper’s cars and alerted police. Powers was arrested by state troopers soon after, while Barker and Holby were taken into custody at a nearby home. Formal charges against them are still pending.
Jasmine Block was treated for minor injuries at a nearby hospital where her mother Sarah was waiting for her.
Her mother later thanked supporters on Facebook, where she posted a photograph of herself with Jasmine.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Chief Wyffels called Jasmine “an amazing young lady with a lot of strength,” and said “all of us in this community are proud of her.”
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