ALEXANDRIA, MINN. - Sarah Block describes it as the best moment of her life.
"Being able to hug her, kiss her, we all cried ... I mean it was the greatest feeling," she said.
Block is describing the moment she was reunited with her daughter Jasmine 29 days after the 15-year-old was allegedly abducted by a one-time family friend.
That man, 32-year-old Thomas Jay Barker, and his two roommates, 31-year-old Joshua Lee Holby and 20-year-old Steven Michael Samuel Powers, were charged Thursday with kidnapping and holding the special needs teenager captive for a month. The charges also say two of the men sexually assaulted Jasmine repeatedly.
"Sleep is hard," Sarah Block shared about her daughter's readjustment after staging a daring escape. "Anytime she closes her eyes, she sees their faces."
It was on Aug. 9 at 1:18 a.m. that Sarah 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 raped her.
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 raped 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 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.
On Thursday night, Block talked to KARE 11 about the moment she was reunited with her daughter.
"Knowing it was actually her, and being able to hug her and kiss her and we all cried. It was the greatest feeling," said Block.
Barker and Powers are being held on $100,000 cash bail with conditions of release, a $1 million bond with conditions or a $2 million cash bail or bond without conditions of release. Holby is being held on a $75,000 cash bond without conditions ($750,000 bond) or a $1.5 million cash bail or bond with no conditions.
The conditions of release for all three men include remaining law abiding, making all future court appearances, reporting any address changes, not leaving the state and not possessing any alcoholic beverages or drugs. They also must stay away from the victim and her family, the other suspects and be hooked up to GPS monitoring.
Their next court date will be at 10 a.m. on Sept. 18.
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