Beth is a reporter at the Echo Press. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in May 2015 with a degree in Communication and Hispanic Studies. Journalism has always been her passion, but she also enjoys blogging and graphic design. In her spare time, she's most likely at Crossfit or at home with her boyfriend and three dogs.
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ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — Earl Melchert wasn't supposed to be home that Tuesday afternoon. Melchert, an employee of Elbow Lake Co-op Grain, had been working near his home near Barrett and made a last-minute decision to pick something up from his house. It was that decision that would change the course of numerous lives — especially the life of a 15-year-old girl named Jasmine Block. Police say she had been had been abducted and held against her will by three men for nearly one month before escaping the afternoon of Sept. 5.
ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — The first court appearance of the three men suspected in the kidnapping and assault of a 15-year-old Alexandria girl drew a nearly full courtroom at the Douglas County Courthouse on Monday, Sept. 18. The men — Thomas Barker, 32, of Carlos, Minn.; Steven Powers, 20, of Benson, Minn.; and Joshua Lee Holby, 31, of Carlos — each waived a reading of the criminal complaint and did not enter a plea. Barker, Powers and Holby are expected to appear in court for the second time in six to eight weeks.
ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — It's been one year since Brook Weske's life as she knew it came to an abrupt halt. Early morning on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, a North Memorial Air Ambulance helicopter carrying Brook's now-husband, flight paramedic Miles Weske, crashed along the shore of Lake Winona in Alexandria. "I remember it like it was yesterday. The eerie feeling before I found out the news. The radio page. Hugging my work partner goodbye. The emotionless drive to the Cities. The sounds of the ICU. And the smell of my fiancée who was dying in front of my eyes."
ALEXANDRIA, Minn.—While Jasmine Block mingled with the large number of community members that gathered to welcome her home the evening of Friday, Sept. 8, her full attention was on one creature the entire time: her new eight-week-old labradoodle puppy, Rocky, who was gathered into a bundle in the 15-year-old's arms. Jasmine, who was abducted Aug. 8 and escaped Sept. 5, was given the dog by a donor. Rocky will eventually be trained to be a service dog to bring Jasmine comfort in the aftermath of what she went through.
CARLOS, Minn. — Law enforcement officials are working to retrace the steps of the three men who are suspected of abducting and assaulting 15-year-old Jasmine Block. Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels said police are asking that Douglas, Grant and Pope county farmers keep an eye out for areas in cornfields that look as if they could have been driven through. It is suspected that the men drove into cornfields to hide, possibly overnight at points.
ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — When Jan Scearcy learned her granddaughter Noelle had been diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a condition causing a fluid build up on the brain, she was instantly twice as worried as most people would be. "It was doubly hard because you're dealing with your son and daughter-in-law plus your grandchild," the Alexandria woman said. "You wonder how can you help the most and stand behind everybody." Noelle, who will be 5 in October, lives with her family in Dilworth. She was diagnosed with hydrocephalus in October 2013, right after she turned 1.
ALEXANDRIA, Minn.—Law enforcement officials and volunteers spent Wednesday, Aug. 23, searching for any sign of missing Alexandria 15-year-old Jasmine Block. "The idea is to be complete and thorough with canvassing, to try and cover every possibility we possibly can to get clues as to where Jasmine's whereabouts could be," said Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels. Jasmine was last seen Aug. 8 at her home on North McKay Avenue in Alexandria.
ALEXANDRIA, Minn.—As the flames from candles danced in the low light across the sanctuary, tears were shed. Prayers were said. Stories were told. On the evening of Friday, Aug. 18, approximately 70 people gathered for a candlelight vigil and prayer service held in honor of Jasmine Block, a 15-year-old from Alexandria who has been missing since Tuesday, Aug. 8. Kevin Taylor, the director of the non-profit youth group Youth for Christ, opened the vigil, which was held at New Life Christian Church in Alexandria. He spoke about who Jasmine was and prayed for her return.
ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — Jacquelyn Rosenow says she first became concerned about homelessness in veterans when an acquaintance told her of a 22-year-old veteran who was living out of his car. "I started doing research and found out about Final Salute," Rosenow said. "Through them I found out about Ms. Veteran America and thought, 'If all I have to do is put on a dress and advocate for this, if I can make an impact, I'll do it.'"
OSAKIS, Minn. — While visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., Kenneth Johnson of Osakis had one thing on his mind: finding the name of a young man he'd served with in 1969 — a young man who was killed in action. "I wanted to see one name in particular," Johnson said. "He and I had one thing in common: We both extended and went back over (to Vietnam) a second time. And that's when he was killed."