ALEXANDRIA, Minn. - If Alexandria-area resident Earl Melchert wasn't considered a hero before, he certainly increased his chances on Friday.
Melchert is the man who recognized abducted teen Jasmine Block on September 5 as she ran from her captors, put her in his truck and called authorities. Jasmine was allegedly taken by someone known to her family, held captive for nearly a month and repeatedly sexually assaulted by her kidnapper and one of his roommates. Authorities credit Melchert for helping the girl escape her captors.
On Friday Alexandria Police Chief Richard Wyffels held a news conference to present Melchert with a check for $7,000, reward money put up by Block's family and an anonymous donor for anyone who could provide information that would lead to Jasmine's return. But when the chief handed the check to Melchert, he turned and gave it to Jasmine, then gave her a big hug.
"What no one expected was the kindness and generosity that came straight from Earl’s heart today.," wrote Chief Wyffels in a post on the department's Facebook page. "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."
Wyffels ended the post by reminding everyone to be kind to each other, a message embodied by the man of the hour.