ALEXANDRIA, Minn. - Three men are charged with kidnapping, sexual assault and other felony counts in connection with the disappearance of a 15-year-old Alexandria girl.
The criminal complaints filed against 32-year-old Thomas Jay Barker, 31-year-old Joshua Lee Holby and 20-year-old Steven Michael Samuel Powers detail the plot that led to the special needs teenager being held hostage for a month.
It was on Aug. 9 at 1:18 a.m. that Sara Block contacted Alexandria Police and reported her daughter, Jasmine, was missing. The girl was last seen by her mother around 10:30 p.m the previous night laying on a recliner suffering from a migraine. Jasmine's cell phone and scooter were still in the house, something that was very unusual behavior for the girl.
Despite an intensive investigation and numerous searches Jasmine was not seen or heard from until Tuesday, Sept. 5, when the teen ran into the yard of Earl Melchert, a resident of Barrett, and told him she needed the police "now" as she had been kidnapped and had to swim across Thompson Lake to escape.
Melchert recognized Block from the missing posters he had seen all over the area and immediately called 911. As she took shelter in the man's truck Jasmine informed him that a car passing by was one of the men who kidnapped her. Melchert relayed that information to arriving officers and the driver, Steven Michael Samuel Powers, was arrested.
Jasmine Block told investigators that Powers, Barker and Holby were her captors and that Barker carried a handgun. She detailed how Barker, the father of one of her friends, came to her home that night and said his son was not behaving and that he needed her help. Jasmine says she got in Barker's truck, and he proceeded to his residence where he zip-tied her, pointed a gun at her and forced her to have sex.
The teen says she was held captive at Barker's residence in Carlos for most of the time she was missing, and that he tried to drown her in a bath tub one time but was unable to finish the job as he suffers from cerebral palsy and lacks strength.
Jasmine told investigators that she also survived at least two more efforts to kill her. She says she was confined to the closet in Barker's house, which had a television and a fan in it. The men brought her food and water over that time. She claims that Barker and Powers had sex with her on multiple occasions, but Holby did not.
Block finally got an opportunity to escape on Sept. 5 while riding in the back of a pickup truck inside a zipped up duffle bag. When the three men went inside a convenience store to get some food, Jasmine slipped out of the bag and ran away. She eventually swam across the lake and found Earl Melchert. Powers was arrested as he drove by the scene and Barker and Holby were arrested later that day when a state trooper conducted a traffic stop on the pickup that had been carrying Block.
During questioning, Powers admitted to staying at Barker's place for two weeks and having sexual relations with the girl. He also reportedly told detectives that while Jasmine was being held captive, a Douglas County Deputy came to Barker's residence as part of a stolen property investigation, but they didn't answer the door.
Barker allegedly admitted he has been abusing methamphetamine and alcohol but denied knowing Jasmine, picking her up or holding her captive.
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