MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Three men are now charged with taking a 15-year-old-girl and holding her against her will for 29 days.
The Douglas County Attorney charged 32-year-old Thomas Barker, 31-year-old Joshua Holby and 20-year-old Steven Powers with kidnapping and false imprisonment. Barker and Powers are also charged with first-degree sexual assault, and Barker faces an additional charge of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon.
Police say the three men tied up, abused and tried to kill 15-year-old Jasmine Block after taking her from her Alexandria home last month. The three men appeared separately in Douglas County Court Thursday.
At the same time, WCCO sat down with Jasmine and her mother, Sarah Block, at their church.
Sarah prayed and searched for a month, hoping her daughter would be found alive.
“It was the longest 29 days of my life,” Sarah said.
Her prayers were answered Tuesday. Jasmine’s kidnappers had her at a foreclosed property on Thompson Lake in Grant County.
Jasmine decided to make a run for it
“They were gone and they said that it would be about an hour until they get back,” Jasmine said.
She got out and eventually swam across the lake to find help.
“I’m not a good swimmer,” Jasmine said.
But she did, leaving behind her shoes and some of her clothes weighing her down. She found a farmer who called 911.
A detective came to Sarah’s house to tell her the news.
“He goes, ‘Sarah, we found Jasmine.’ And at that point I pretty much tuned him out because I was like hysterically crying. I was waving my hands, I’m like, ‘Where is she? Where is she?'”
But the joy of Jasmine being found alive is mixed with the pain of what she suffered.
New charges reveal Barker, a family acquaintance, took Jasmine from her home. Barker, Powers and Holby moved her to multiple locations.
She was sexually assaulted multiple times, and told police at one point the men tried to drown her in a bathtub in a duffel bag — but she kept her head above water, never giving up.
“She’s a warrior. Just turned 15. Been through God knows, everything this last month and she had the strengths and courage to do that,” Sarah said.
Sarah says her daughter is getting the help she needs to begin to process what happened.
She hopes parents will tell their children to fight, and she thanks the police who didn’t give up on her family.
“They all came in to see Jasmine,” Sarah said. “They said this case is going to be their case of a lifetime.”
Police have been calling Barker a family acquaintance. Sarah says he was someone she knew for many years, but had distanced herself recently because she was concerned he was involved in criminal activities.
Jasmine says she plans on starting high school next week. She was also looking forward to going to pick up a therapy dog that someone donated to her.