Weather Forecast


'It's all about her tonight,' says mom as welcome home held for abducted Alexandria teen

Dawn Erickson, a family friend, greets Jasmine as her mother addresses the crowd. Beth Leipholtz | Forum News Service1 / 7
Many community members turned out to welcome Jasmine Block home. Beth Leipholtz | Forum News Service2 / 7
Many of Jasmine Block’s friends came to the community gathering. (Beth Leipholtz | Forum news Service3 / 7
Jasmine Block reconnects with friends as community members meet her new service dog, Rocky. (Beth Leipholtz | Echo Press)4 / 7
Jasmine spent much of the time at the gathering embracing community members who came out to welcome her back. Beth Leipholtz | Forum News Service5 / 7
Dawn Erickson (right) greets Jasmine’s mother, Sarah Block (left) after Sarah speaks about her daughter’s heroic actions. Beth Leipholtz | Forum News Service6 / 7
Jasmine seemed to be in good spirits at the gathering of community members on Friday, Sept. 8, in Alexandria. (Beth Leipholtz |Forum News Service7 / 7

ALEXANDRIA, Minn.—While Jasmine Block mingled with the large number of community members that gathered to welcome her home the evening of Friday, Sept. 8, her full attention was on one creature the entire time: her new eight-week-old labradoodle puppy, Rocky, who was gathered into a bundle in the 15-year-old's arms.

Jasmine, who was abducted Aug. 8 and escaped Sept. 5, was given the dog by a donor. Rocky will eventually be trained to be a service dog to bring Jasmine comfort in the aftermath of what she went through.

"The dog pretty much picked her out," said Sarah Block, Jasmine's mother. "There were two of them and she was going to pick the one that was more calm. He went right to her. He has followed her around since she got him and is right by her side no matter where she goes."

Friday's gathering was initially planned when Jasmine was still missing and was to be a prayer service. However, when Jasmine escaped her captors, the event instead changed to a celebration.

"She (Jasmine) was a little bit nervous because we didn't know how many people were going to be here," Sarah said. "She told me she wasn't going to talk and I don't blame her one bit. I'm not trying to get her to talk at all."

"It's very emotional, seeing everybody come together to support Jaz, to know that she is a hero in this community and all over," Sarah said. "She can see a sense of how many people care about her, how many people love her and did not give up on her. She's the reason why everybody came together. It's all about her tonight."

Prior to her disappearance, Jasmine was part of a youth group run by Kevin Taylor. Taylor was very active in searching for Jasmine and giving support to the Block family. Taylor was at the hospital when Jasmine was reunited with her family and says it's something he won't ever forget.

"That was probably the highlight of my ministry career," he said.

Though Jasmine was in good spirits Friday night, her mother says there have been many difficult instances in the three days since her escape.

"She does have a lot of bad moments," Sarah said. "During those times she will talk to me or her sisters or any family. We are there 200 percent, no matter what she needs. This isn't something that is going to be fixed overnight. It's going to be years."

Taylor and Sarah both credit the Douglas County community for coming together in a time of need.

"It's pretty awesome," Taylor said. "It's something that you'd like to see more of, and not just in times of trouble. It's important to see the community come around each other and pick one another up when they see that there's somebody in need, help them out."

Sarah agrees, crediting local officials as well as community members.

"I cannot express how thankful I am to the law enforcement, firefighters, friends, family, strangers — they have all been there for us throughout this whole thing and they're still there for us," she said. "I couldn't ask for a better community."

Beth Leipholtz

Beth is a reporter at the Echo Press. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in May 2015 with a degree in Communication and Hispanic Studies. Journalism has always been her passion, but she also enjoys blogging and graphic design. In her spare time, she's most likely at Crossfit or at home with her boyfriend and three dogs.

(320) 763-1233