On August 8, a family in Alexandria, Minnesota reported their 15-year-old daughter missing. A month after she vanished from her home, authorities reunited the teen with her family, but the entire situation proved to be very bizarre.
According to the authorities, a man found the girl running through a field in a nearby county and helped her call 911. Turns out, she had been kidnapped and held in captivity in a closet for several weeks by three men who physically and sexually assaulted her.
Apparently one of the men approached the girl outside of her home around 11 pm "on the pretense that he needed help with a situation," but when she went to offer him a hand, she was threatened with weapons and abducted.
She was taken to various locations over the weeks, before they finally settling at a foreclosed property in Grant County. Then, after being left alone "for the first time in 29 days," the teen decided to make a run for it. She tried seeking help from the nearby homes, but when that didn't work she swam across part of Thompson Lake in hopes of finding someone who could rescue her.
Thankfully, she stumbled upon a farmer named Earl Melchert, who came to her aid. Melchert called the police right away, and they were eventually led to the girl's captors.
"I could make out her face, and I went, "˜Oh my gosh, this is the gal from Alexandria that's been gone for 29 days,'" Melchert told the New York Times. "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."
Last week, Melchert, who is being dubbed a hero, was given a monetary reward for his help in the case, but he chose to do something really special with it.
Instead of keeping the $7,000 reward, which included $2,000 from the victim's family, Melchert gave the check to the family.
"It's the best thing I've ever done," Melchert told the New York Times.
The 65-year-old dined with the family before gifting them with the money. When asked why, he said that he wanted "to hand over some money to people that really need it."
"The family needs the money," he continued. "To me, yeah, that's a lot of money, but they need it way worse than I do."
The men who abducted the girl, Thomas Barker, 32, Joshua Holby, 31, and 20-year-old Steven Powers, were arrested and charged kidnapping, false imprisonment and assault.
"This remains an ongoing investigation and many details about what happened are still to be learned," read the police statement. "Investigators are attempting to identify the specific cornfields through which the suspects drove with [the teen]. They are also hoping to locate [her] shoes and pants, which were lost as she swam for help."
The girl's family has asked for privacy, so they have not issued a statement to the public, however her mom reportedly posted a photo of their reunion on social media, and the teen appears to be recovering well.