Minnesota teen swims across lake to escape captors, police say

Sept. 7 (UPI) — A Minnesota teen escaped her captors and swam across a lake to flee them Tuesday, police said.

The 15-year-old girl from Alexandria, Minn. had been missing since Aug. 8. Police said that was when she was abducted by Thomas Barker, 32, who held her captive in a nearby home as his roommate, 31-year-old Joshua Holby and a friend, 20-year-old Stephen Powers, physically and sexually assaulted the girl.

Barker is reportedly a friend of the victim’s family.

“Once inside the home, her nightmare was just beginning,” Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels said, according to the Duluth News Tribune. “Barker tied her up with zip-ties and then he, his roommate and a friend repeatedly assaulted Miss Block and threatened her with weapons.”

The abuse continued for the next four weeks until the girl’s alleged captors left her alone in a foreclosed lake home in rural Grant County and went out for lunch. She was able to find a way out of the home and then swam across the lake where she ran door to door to find help.

She was wandering through grasslands when a farmer spotted her.

“When she come walking out of the grass I’m thinking oh my gosh, you got to be kidding me,” he told WCCO. “When I saw her face I knew right away.”

The farmer then called police. When they arrived, the girl saw the car of her alleged captor driving past the farmer’s property.

“I was getting her out of the pickup to put her in the deputy’s car and she says ‘There’s the car, there’s the car’,” he said. “So one of the deputies chased him down.”

The three suspects are being held in jail as investigators determine which charges to file.


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