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When accused abductors left for lunch, teen ran and swam to escape before finding help

Steven Powers

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — A 15-year-old teen, abducted and then assaulted for 29 days, escaped captivity when she ran for help, knocked on several doors and eventually swimming across a lake to find someone who could help her.

Jasmine Block, reunited with her family Tuesday, Sept. 5, is "an amazing young lady with a lot of strength," Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels said during a news conference Wednesday.

Law enforcement arrested three men on suspicion of kidnapping, false imprisonment and assault.

The Douglas County Attorney will determine specific charges against Thomas Barker, 32, of Carlos, Minn., Steven Powers, 20, of Mankato, and Joshua Holby, 31, of Carlos.

A news release spelled out details of the preliminary investigation into Block's disappearance Aug. 8:

Barker approached Block outside of her home around 11 p.m. on the pretense that he needed help. He was known to Block, so she offered to assist and entered Barker's vehicle.

Barker drove Block to his Carlos residence, where he he restrained her with zip ties, repeatedly assaulted her and threatened her with weapons.

According to police, Holby lives with Barker and participated in the assaults, as did Powers, who arrived at the home about two weeks following the abduction.

The assaults continued over several weeks while she was being held. Late last week, the men took Block from the house to various locations including a cornfield and a foreclosed property in Grant County.

On Tuesday afternoon, the three men left Block alone while they traveled to a nearby town for lunch. This was the first time in 29 days she was left alone.

Police said Block ran for help, knocking on doors at several homes and eventually swimming across part of Thompson Lake to locate a residence where someone could help her.

At approximately 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 6, Block was found running through a field in Grant County near Thompson Lake toward a farmer, who Wyffels said "instantly" recognized her. She identified herself as Jasmine Block and asked the man to call 911.

Block told responding officers that she had been abducted.