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.

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. 

Next Up

Karl-Anthony Towns

Wolves-Grizzlies game off, KAT tests postive for COVID

The Timberwolves star was among several players that are dealing with COVID-related issues.

minnesota state fair

Planning for the 2021 Minnesota State Fair is underway

The fair suffered huge financial losses due to COVID-19, but organizers are moving forward with planning "different scenarios" for this summer.

Screen Shot 2021-01-15 at 2.16.44 PM

Heather Brown named as new WCCO 'This Morning' anchor

She will be joining Jason DeRusha on the CBS affiliate's Morning Show.

DPS John Harrington

DPS Commissioner: No credible threats to state Capitol, but ready if something arises

Local and state law enforcement officials have a plan in case a threat arises.

snow, slush (submitted photo, ok to use)

Here are snow totals from Thursday-Friday winter storm

It's a slushy mess in the metro, but snow did pile up in southern counties.

tim walz

Walz fury after report that government's COVID vaccine reserve is nonexistent

The Washington Post reported Friday that the Trump Administration has shipped out all the vaccines it has already, with none in reserve.

closed sign

What's open and closed in Minnesota on MLK Day 2021?

Local government offices will generally be closed on Monday.

BMTN 900x450 (8)

Company that falsely promised student loan forgiveness banned from MN

It's also been ordered to repay $11,499 in fees taken from Minnesotans.

covid-19, coronavirus

Here is Minnesota's COVID update for January 15

Hospitalizations are the lowest in Minnesota since October 25.


Osterholm: B117 COVID strain could become major issue in 6-8 weeks

The B117 variant is believed to be more easily transmitted.


It's now been a week since an Alexandria teenager disappeared

There's a $1,000 reward for finding Jasmine Block, 15

Searchers find Alexandria teen missing for nearly a month

Jasmine Block is being treated for minor injuries, police say.

Jasmine Block

Teen Jasmine Block recounts horrific 2017 abduction on Dr. Phil

She was taken from her Alexandria home by a family friend and repeatedly assaulted over 29 days.

Missing Alexandria teen escaped captors, swam across a lake for help

Police say three men held the 15-year-old against her will for 29 days.

A lawsuit says a Twin Cities hospital didn't protect a patient from sex assaults

The family of a 15-year-old girl with developmental disabilities is suing.

Police ask for help locating 2 teens missing from Bemidji

The teens are ages 15 and 17, respectively.

Reward to help catch suspect who robbed, shot at woman

The woman was walking home during the day when she was attacked.