Teen's remarkable tale of abduction, rape — and escape
THE wet, bedraggled girl was sprinting through a field, shoeless - and pantless. But the curious farmer instantly recognised the face of 15-year-old Jasmine Block. It had been plastered everywhere on missing persons posters, television and newspapers for almost a month.
And the tale of survival she told him and police has resulted in the arrest of a family friend and two others.
Jasmine, from the city of Alexandria, says she was approached about 10.30pm on August 8 by 32-year-old Thomas Barker.
She knew him as the father of a friend.
So when he asked her to help with his misbehaving son, she readily agreed.
"He approached her house in a friendly way," Alexandria Police Chief Richard Wyffels told a press conference yesterday. "He tricked her."
Jasmine got into his car, expecting to be taken to his Alexandria house.
Instead, he drove her to a remote property in the nearby town of Carlos where he had a mobile home.
There, he grappled her and bound her with zip ties, she reportedly told police.
"Once inside," Wyffels said, Jasmine's "nightmare began."
He allegedly pulled out a gun, threatened to kill her and sexually assaulted her.
Three hours later, Jasmine's mother noticed she was gone. And that she's left her phone behind.
Jasmine says she was then bundled into a closet, where she spend much of the next several weeks.
She was occasionally given water, and fast food.
A week later, Barker was joined by two other suspects - Steven Powers, 20, and Joshua Holby, 31.
All three beat her and sexually assaulted her, she says.
"I was usually in a closet and I usually stayed quiet because I was scared they might hit me or do something," Jasmine told Fox 9.
Police say Jasmine was repeatedly raped by Barker and forced into conducting sex acts on Powers. Holby, who did not attempt to free her or contact police, reportedly did not take part in the sexual assaults.
The trio had, however, attempted to kill her, Jasmine says.
First, by trying to hold her down in a filled bathtub.
Then by kicking her off a bucket while she was tied by the neck to rafters.
At one point a police officer investigating an unrelated stolen property report knocked on the door of Barker's Carlos house. All three suspects were inside at the time, and Jasmine was in her closet.
Nobody answered the door and the deputy left.
Shortly after the visit by the deputy, the trio allegedly decided they needed to move on.
They reportedly bundled Jasmine in a duffel bag and tossed her on to the back of a truck.
She was then taken to a variety of locations, including several remote corn fields. The trio then broke into an abandoned house, where they set up camp.
Then, on Thursday afternoon, Jasmine was left on her own for the first time since she was seized in August.
The three had decided to go into a nearby town for lunch.
Jasmine slipped her bonds and ran - eventually spotting a cluster of houses across nearby Thompson Lake.
She shed her shoes and pants to reduce weight as she swam towards rescue, she told police.
Once ashore, she began to sprint.
Only now was the desperate girl spotted by a farmer, who recognised her.
"Oh my gosh, you got to be kidding me," the farmer reportedly reacted. "When I saw her face I knew right away."
"It was just a great feeling, [I told her] 'just get in the pick-up, we're going to help you now,'" he said.
He dried her and kept her warm in his pick-up truck as he dialled 911.
It was as Jasmine was being handed over to police that the suspects drove past.
"I was getting her out of the pick-up to put her in the deputy's car, and she says 'There's the car, there's the car,' " the farmer told WCCO.
"So one of the deputies chased him down."
Steven Powers was immediately arrested.
Thomas Barker and Joshua Holby were detained a short time later.
Barker, who has cerebral palsy, denied knowing Jasmine or picking her up.
Barker is charged with two counts of kidnapping, two counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of assault with a dangerous weapon and one count of false imprisonment.
Powers is charged with one count of kidnapping, one count of criminal sexual conduct and one count of false imprisonment.
Holby is charged with two counts of kidnapping and one count of false imprisonment.
"We are all proud of her," Alexandria Police Chief Richard Wyffels said, saying Jasmine was an "unbelievable young woman".
"I think she's a warrior," the teen's mother told Fox 9. "She's probably the strongest person I have ever known."
Jasmine says she plans to return to classes next week.