A 15-year-old Minnesota girl has been returned to her family after allegedly spending nearly a month in the captivity of three men who terrorized and sexually assaulted her.
On Tuesday, 29 days after she first vanished, the teen escaped by swimming across a large lake before sprinting through a field of tall grass to find help. The police were summoned and eventually detained her alleged captors — roommates Thomas Barker, 32, and Steven Powers, 20, as well as another man, Joshua Holby, 31.
All three men are being held without bail following their arrests for kidnapping, false imprisonment, and assault. None has entered a plea to the charges they face.
Here are four things you need to know about the case.
1. The Girl Was Allegedly Kidnapped By Her Father’s Friend
Court records allege the teen was approached by Barker, a friend of her father’s, outside her home around 11 p.m. on Aug. 8. He allegedly told the girl his son had been misbehaving and that he hoped she could counsel him.
The girl was last seen on Aug. 8 leaving her home in Alexandria, Minnesota. Barker drove the girl to his residence in Carlos, Minnesota, where he restrained her with zip ties at gun point, court documents allege.
Investigators believe Holby also allegedly “took part in the assaults, as did Mr. Powers, who arrived at the home about [two] weeks following the abduction.”
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2. She Was Allegedly Tortured and Nearly Drowned Twice
Court documents allege Barker tried drowning the girl twice during her 29-day ordeal. The first time, she alleged to police, her hands were tied behind her back, and Barker tried holding her head underwater, but she fought him off.
The second alleged drowning attempt followed not long after, when the girl said she was forced into a duffel bag that was then placed in a slowly-filling bathtub. She managed to stick her head out through a hole in the bag so she could breathe.
The girl told police she was allegedly threatened into performing sex acts on Barker and Powers, and that they also had forcible intercourse with her.
3. She Told Investigators She Feared For Her Life
According to the documents, the girl told investigators she constantly feared for her life. She alleged she had a rope tied around her neck, and said she was hung from her ceiling until she was unable to breathe.
She told police she believed she would not survive the ordeal.
The documents further allege that Barker and Powers forced her to consume alcohol and cocaine.
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4. She Was Allegedly Held In A Closet and Fed Fast Food
The girl alleged she spent much of her captivity locked in a closet with a working television set and a fan.
At one point, police investigating a theft showed up at Barker’s residence, but the girl was allegedly warned to keep quiet. When the officers left, she was moved to an abandoned house, where she was again locked in a closet, authorities allege.
She allegedly told police the men fed her, bringing her fast food meals to subsist on.
Attorneys for Barker and Holby could not be reached for comment Friday; Powers has yet to retain an attorney who could comment on his behalf.