A Minnesota farmer who rescued a kidnapped girl was given a reward for finding her, and decided to give it to her family rather than keep it for himself.
Earl Melchert was on his property one day when he spotted something moving. He first thought it was a deer, but got closer and was shocked to discover that it was 15-year-old Jasmine Block -- who had disappeared a month earlier and was kidnapped by three men. The men reportedly held her hostage in an abandoned home and had sexually abused her.
When Melchert found her, Jasmine was attempting to escape her captors.
"Oh my gosh, this is the gal from Alexandria that's been gone for 29 days,'" he told The New York Times, All That's Fab reported. "It'd been on the news, it'd been online. It went national. It was on posters, in stores, her face, her picture. Right away I recognized her."
Melchert signaled the girl over to his truck, helped her in and drove her to a police station. On the way, the girl reportedly saw one of her captors searching for her. She had escaped earlier when the three kidnappers were out. She had tried knocking on doors of nearby houses to no avail. She swam across a lake and walked through a field to Melchert's property, where he then saw her.
After the rescue, Melchert was given a $7,000 reward for the girl's return. He refused to accept it, however, and instead gave it to Jasmine's family.
"What no one expected was the kindness and generosity that came straight from Earl's heart today," Police Chief Rick Wyffels wrote in a Facebook post, All That's Fab reported. "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."
Melchert said he was proud to have helped save the girl.
"It's the best thing I've ever done," he said. "The family needs the money... to me, yeah, that's a lot of money, but they need it way worse than I do."
Many readers applauded Melchert for his generosity after such a brave act, and also praised the teen for being courageous enough to escape her kidnappers.
"There are two hero's in this story. The good man that helped this young lady, the brave young lady that went through this horrible experience. May God help her get her life back & try to move on. God bless her for her bravery & endurance to make it thru this ordeal. Hope that the ones that are guilty are apprehended & put away a long time," one Newsiosity reader commented on the site's Facebook page.
"That’s a true hero. The one who rescued a girl not for the $$. We need more people like him. Glad the little girl is safe at home," another wrote.
"First and foremost thank you for doing this to protect that young lady and your kindness for realizing how much that family needed the reward money God bless you sir," another added.