Minnesota Man Who Helped Kidnapped Teen Gives Her His $7K Reward

Henrietta Brewer
October 9, 2017

Earl Melchert discovered 15-year-old Jasmine Block wandering near his home near Barrett, right after she had escaped from a cabin September 5th.

Block was kept in several homes during her 29-day kidnapping, and repeatedly sexually and physically assaulted by three men. She was found about 20 miles from her home.

'What no one expected was the kindness and generosity that came straight from Earl's heart today.

He called Jasmine Block the "real hero", and apparently handed the reward over without hesitation.

"There's good people in the world still", the older sister said, "not many, but there still is, and he's one of them".

"The reward money means absolutely nothing to me", he told Block's mother, Sarah Block.

But she escaped from the house where she was being held and swam across a lake to get to Mr Melchert's home.

The two families talked about the girl's recovery process, and how she was back in school attending classes for a few hours a day, Jody Melchert said.

Jasmine is said to have escaped when her captors went out to eat.

Though Elchert had just retired a week earlier, he said that Block "deserved" the money and handed the check over to the teen.

Block swam across the body of water, running into Melchert - a local farmer - in a auto on the other side.

"I want to help people now", he said.

According to investigators, Barker, who suffers from cerebral palsy, admitted he was on methamphetamine and booze.

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.

Wyffels called Melchert a "hero" at a meeting with Melchert and Block's family on Friday.

'We wanted to thank him. He didn't have to help her and he did. But this made me look at things a lot differently.

She also hailed the bravery of her daughter for the pain that she had to endure during her time in captivity. The farmer immediately called 911, and while he was on the phone he reported a vehicle that Block recognized as one of her abductor's.

"I've been waiting to meet him", she said.

The suspects, including a friend of the girl's family, were charged with kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct, assault and false imprisonment. Her family lauded her tenacity and bravery, and in a news conference Alexandria Police Chief Richard Wyffels called her an "unbelievable young woman". "You guys deserve it, and I think it's going to the best place it can go".

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