A Minnesota farmer who rescued an abducted teenage girl gave the reward money to her family on Friday, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.
The Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported that the victim, Jasmine Block, 15, was held captive by three men for 29 days.
“I usually stayed quiet because I was scared they might hit me or do something,” Jasmine told KMSP-TV.
Weeks after she was kidnapped, the girl escaped. She knocked on nearby doors for help, but when no one answered, she swam across a lake to evade her captors.
How was she rescued?
On Sept. 5, Earl Melchert, an employee of Elbow Lake Co-op Grain, was working near his house when he made a last-minute decision to return home to pick something up, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.
“I would have been [at home] about a minute,” Melchert said. “But I happened to look out and I saw a speck. Eventually, she got close to me and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s a woman.’ Then pretty soon I said, ‘No, it’s a young girl.’
Melchert said he recognized the kidnapping victim from news reports.
“I knew it was her as soon as I saw her face,” he said.
Melchert said he brought the girl into his truck and called 911.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” he said. “I did what I had to do.”
As Melchert drove Jasmine to the authorities, she saw a car belonging to one of the three men now charged with the crime. They were arrested the same day she was rescued.
What did he do with the reward?
The Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported that while Jasmine was missing, her family and an anonymous donor pooled together a $7,000 reward for information leading to her safe return. Police decided Jasmine’s rescuer should receive the award.
However, at a meeting at the Alexandria Police Department on Friday, Melchert turned down the money, giving it to Jasmine and her mother instead.
“The reward money means absolutely nothing to me,” Melchert said. “I want to present this money to you and Jasmine. You guys deserve it.”
Sarah Block, Jasmine’s mother, said Melchert is “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,” she said.
Alexandria, Minnesota, police called the gesture “an incredible example of kindness” in a Facebook post.
“Thank you Earl, it is people like you that make this world a better place,” the police added. “Have a great day everyone and please remember to be kind to one another.”
How is Jasmine recovering?
"Sometimes [I feel] good,” Jasmine told KMSP. “Sometimes not great. Like sometimes, I have problems sleeping because I close my eyes and I see their faces. I'm scared to sleep because I might have bad nightmares."
Sarah Block told KMSP, "I think she's a warrior.”
"She's probably the strongest person I have ever known," she said.
Block told the Twin Cities Pioneer Press that her daughter’s life is slowly returning to normal.
“Jasmine is in school and they’re adding more classes,” she said. “She has her therapy dog and is playing with her friends again. Things are looking up.”
(H/T: Fox News)