For any parent, a missing child is their worst nightmare. No matter what the circumstance, not knowing where your child is or if they are safe is completely devastating.
In the United States, thousands of children and teens go missing each year and if they are not found quickly, they may be left to an awful fate. It often takes the work of a whole community to locate one missing person.
The Block family of Alexandria, Minnesota was forced to endure this harsh reality last month when their beloved 15-year-old daughter, Jasmine, was reported missing. The teen’s whereabouts that day weren’t clear, but the family was determined to put the pieces together.
— FOX 9 (@FOX9) August 16, 2017
“We have [many] gaps in our timeline and are asking that if you had spent any time with Jasmine or seen her in the two days prior to her disappearance that you contact us,” the police said. According to the witnesses, Jasmine was last seen riding bikes near the Central Lakes Trail with strangers, two other teens and a man in his 30s.
Within days, the reward for Jasmine’s return went up to $7,000 after a generous donation from an anonymous donor. The entire community came together to form a search party and prepare a candlelight vigil.
Jasmine was taken after Thomas Barker, 32, approached her and asked for help with a family matter. Jasmine made the unfortunate decision to get into the car with him, was driven to a home, tied with zip ties and abused by Barker, Steven Powers, 20, and Joshua Holby, 31, for nearly one month.
After 29 days, Jasmine managed to escape from the house while her abusers were away. She swam across a lake and was eventually found in the Grant County grasslands behind a man’s home.
Found Safe!Jasmine Block AKA Jaz Block#JasmineBlock #JazBlock #Jasmine #Jaz…
It was there that finally, on Sep. 5, the man spotted Jasmine from a distance while driving in his truck and soon recognized her as the local, missing girl. Meanwhile, the police were able to team up with the FBI, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and several county police departments to aggressively look for the people involved in Jasmine’s disappearance.
It was ultimately Jasmine who spotted her own captors while moving from the truck into the police car, told the sheriff, and helped lead to the three men’s arrest. “I was getting her out of the pickup to put her in the deputy’s car,” the man said. “And she says ‘There’s the car, there’s the car.’”
— FOX 9 (@FOX9) August 16, 2017
Jasmine was found to have minor injuries and was taken to Douglas County Hospital to be treated, to the relief and satisfaction of local police, the community, and her family.
“I just want to say thank you for helping for never giving up!” Jasmine’s mother, Sarah, wrote in a Facebook post. “I thank the law enforcement for being on top of everything working their days off not sleeping much…God answers prayers!”
Hopefully, all of the Block family’s questions will be answered soon. For now, they are simply thankful for the return of their daughter after a month of worry and grief. According to Sarah, a candlelight vigil was planned to welcome Jasmine, described by an officer as an “unbelievable young woman” with “a lot of strength” back home.