Man Finds Kidnapped Teenager And Gives Her His $7,000 Reward

October 10, 2017

Earl Melchert / Credit: Alexandria Police Department

On September 5, Earl Melchert was supposed to be at work managing a fertilizer plant but he forgot a diesel can that he had needed to fill, so he left work and drove to his home in Alexandria, Minnesota, to grab it.

As he prepared to head back to work, he saw something moving in his field about a half-mile away.

"I thought at first it was a deer," he said in an interview.

It turned out to be 15-year-old Jasmine Block, who had disappeared on Aug. 8 from her home about 30 miles from Melchert's home.

"I could make out her face, and I went, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the gal from Alexandria that's been gone for 29 days,'" Melchert said. "It'd been on the news, it'd been online. It went national. It was on posters, in stores, her face, her picture. Right away I recognized her."

Jasmine had escaped from a nearby abandoned house, where the three men who abducted her had kept her for the previous few days. She swam across the lake near Melchert's property to get to his house.

On Friday, the Alexandria Police Department presented Melchert with a $7,000 reward that had been offered for information leading to Jasmine's return; $2,000 had come from Jasmine's family and $5,000 from an anonymous donor.

Melchert said he knew exactly what to do with the check: He gave it to Jasmine.

"It's the best thing I've ever done," said Melchert, who went to dinner with Jasmine and her family after the presentation on Friday.

"The family needs the money," he said. "To me, yeah, that's a lot of money, but they need it way worse than I do."

All three men involved in the kidnapping have been arrested.

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