He helped rescue a teen from captivity – now he gives her the reward money

'You guys deserve this,' he told the 15-year-old and her family.
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Earl Melchert, left, turned his reward money over to the family of Jasmine Block.

Earl Melchert, left, turned his reward money over to the family of Jasmine Block.

Earl Melchert was already a hero to Jasmine Block and her family for bringing the kidnapped 15-year-old to safety after she escaped captors charged with brutalizing her for nearly a month. 

Now he's gone a step further. 

As soon as he was presented with the $7,000 in reward money offered for Jasmine's safe return, he handed the money over to Jasmine and her mother with a hug, the Alexandria Police Department says in a Facebook post

Police Chief Rick Wyffels called what Melchert did an incredible example of kindness. 

"He believes that young lady that came running towards him that September day is the real hero and without hesitation, Earl handed the reward over to her, followed by a big hug. Thank you Earl, it is people like you that make this world a better place," the chief wrote.

The Alexandria Echo Press has video of the ceremony where Melchert hands the check to Jasmine's mother, Sarah, saying: "The reward money means absolutely nothing to me. I want to present this money to you and Jasmine. You guys deserve it.” 

What Melchert did

On September 5 the men who had been keeping Jasmine in a house in Carlos, Minnesota, stuffed her into a duffle bag and put her in the back of a pickup, the girl told authorities. 

When the men stopped at a convenience store she slipped out and took off running. When she came to Thompson Lake she spotted a home on the other side. She began swimming. 

On the way across she lost her pants and shoes, but as she climbed out of the lake she spotted Melchert, who was on a break from his job at a grain elevator and happened to return home to get something.

"I happened to look out and I saw a speck," Melchert told the Echo Press. "Eventually she got close to me and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s a woman.’ Then pretty soon I said, ‘No, it’s a young girl.’ I knew it was her as soon as I saw her face.”

He'd seen the "Missing" posters showing Jasmine, who lives in Alexandria.

Her mother told the newspaper Jasmine is slowly readjusting to life after the trauma and has returned to school with the help of a therapy dog. 

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