Men kept 15-year-old in a closet for weeks, charges say

Details of the Alexandria teen's horrifying ordeal have been revealed.
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Thomas Barker, Joshua Holby, and Steven Powers

Thomas Barker, Joshua Holby, and Steven Powers

A western Minnesota man tricked one of his son's friends into getting into his car last month and then held the 15-year-old girl captive in a closet for weeks, charges filed Thursday say. 

Prosecutors in Alexandria say Thomas Barker, 32, forced the girl into sex more than a dozen times during her four-week ordeal. Barker's roommate, 31-year-old Joshua Holby, also faces kidnapping charges. A friend of theirs, 20-year-old Steven Powers of Benson, is accused of rape and kidnapping. 

Here's what happened, according to the criminal complaints:

The kidnapping

Thomas Barker, whose son is friends with the girl, came to her Alexandria home on the night of August 8 while the girl's mother was not home. Barker told the girl he was having trouble with his son misbehaving and thought it would help if she talked to him. She agreed. 

The complaint says Barker drove the girl to his home in the town of Carlos, bound her with zip ties, pulled out a gun and threatened to kill her. He then raped her more than once, the charges say. 

The closet 

The girl told investigators that for most of her captivity she was kept in a closet in Barker's room. There was a fan and television in the closet and food and water was brought to her. 

She described two times when she was put in a bathtub. She thinks her captors were trying to drown her, but she fought back. The first time Barker gave up. The second time, she said, both Barker and Holby put her in a duffle bag but she was able to stick her head through a hole and fend them off. 

The complaint also says there was a time when the men tied a rope around her neck as she stood on a bucket, then pushed her off. She described not being able to breathe for a time. 

Recently the men had taken her out of the house, either to a cornfield or to an abandoned house in Barrett, Minnesota, where she was finally able to escape this week. 

The escape

When she was left alone in the abandoned home on Tuesday, the teen bolted and swam across a lake to get to a house. She lost her pants and shoes during the swim, but saw a man stepping out his house. He recognized the missing girl from the photos that had been posted of her.

The girl was taken to an Alexandria hospital for treatment of minor injuries. In the ambulance she gave police a statement, telling police who her captors were and explaining what happened, the complaint says. The three suspects were arrested the same day. 

The charges

Barker faces two counts each of kidnapping and rape as well as one count each of assault and false imprisonment. If he's convicted of each, he could get up to 150 years in prison. 

The complaint says once during her captivity Barker forced the girl into a sex act with Powers, who is charged with rape, kidnapping, and false imprisonment that could total 73 years. 

Two charges of kidnapping and one of false imprisonment against Holby could lead to 83 years. 

The three made a first appearance in Douglas County court Thursday.

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