Jasmine Block, barely 15, was home alone on August 8th when a long time family friend stopped by, Thomas Baker. Thomas had asked Jasmine to come with him to help her family. From that moment on, around 10:30 PM, Jasmine was missing. Her family was immediately alarmed upon coming home because Jasmine’s cell and scooter were still at home, which was very unusual for the teen.
Thomas had taken the young girl back to his trailer where he and his roommate, Joshua Holby, bound her with zip-ties sexually assaulted and abused the young girl. After the first two weeks of her horrific torture, another man would arrive, Steven Powers, who, without pause, joined in on the sadistic pact.
After police started to close in on them, the three men stuck Jasmine in a duffel bag and transported her to an abandoned house in the rural countryside. It was there where then finally left her alone, just then after 26 days since Jasmine was captured, she fled.
The young girl managed to swim across a lake, then through tall grass until finally reaching a farm belong to Earl Melchert. Earl just so happened to be driving home when he spotted Jasmine. At first mistaking her for a deer, he later realized he recognized her as the child who had been missing for a month.
Earl put the young girl in his truck and without a second thought called 911. The modest man has said several times anyone could have done it. The 911 operator instructed him to stay on the farm until help arrived.
Once deputies had arrived at the scene, the most peculiar thing happened. One of the men who had held her captive drove right by the property. Police swiftly pursued the suspect and arrested all three men.
The Three men have been identified and arrested. They currently await arraignment of charges of rape, kidnapping, assault, and false imprisonment. More charges may be presented at the arraignment.
“The reward money means absolutely nothing to me,” said Melchert as he addressed Jasmine and her mother, Sarah. “I want to present this money to you and Jasmine. You guys deserve it.”
Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels also spoke, praising the community for spreading Jasmine’s story quickly and widely. She was found about 20 miles from her home.
“You ran into one awesome individual in Earl Melchert,” Wyffels said to Jasmine. “His heart and compassion were instantly in your world. Because of the promotion of your story, your mother’s efforts, your family’s efforts, the community’s efforts, that story was out there, Jasmine. It was out there so much that when Earl saw you, he knew who you were.”
It was the first time Sarah Block had met Melchert. She thanked him and the Alexandria Police Department.
“You guys will forever hold a place in our hearts,” she said.
Of Melchert, she added that she and her family view him as a hero.
“I’ve been waiting to meet him,” she said. “He’s really a hero for us. We wanted to thank him. … He didn’t have to help her and he did. He risked a lot of things and put himself in danger.”