Details have emerged about the horrific ordeal an Alexandria teenager endured during the four weeks she was missing.
Douglas County prosecutors have filed criminal charges against three men in the case. Thomas Barker, 32, of Carlos, Steven Powers, 20, of Benson, and Joshua Holby, 31, of Carlos, are accused of kidnapping, assault and other charges.
According to court documents, the 15-year-old was tied up, kept in a closet and repeatedly raped during her month-long captivity. MPR News is not naming the teen.
Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels said the case is unusual for central Minnesota.
"These stories happen from time to time in places. In Alexandria, Minnesota, it's not a common everyday thing," Wyffels said. "The way that this story played out in our community and the happiness of her being found alive is really what stands out."
Kevin Taylor, a youth pastor at Living Waters Church in Alexandria, was with the family when they were reunited. He said the girl faces a lengthy recovery.
"She seems to be doing well as well as any person could be doing under the circumstances that she faced," Taylor said. "It's going to be a long road."
Taylor said the girl has enough people around her who love her and will help her go through the healing process.
"The thing that I don't want to see is for people to try to make her get over it, but to walk alongside her and help her through all the difficulties, because there's going to be some," he said.
The teen escaped Tuesday from an abandoned home in rural, western Minnesota after the men left her alone for the first time in nearly a month. She knocked on nearby doors, then swam across part of a lake — losing her pants and shoes in the water — and flagged down a farmer for help.
"You'd expect that from someone in the military, right?" Taylor said. "But a small-in-stature, 15-year-old girl, you don't expect it. It is truly amazing and it's truly a blessing."
Living Waters Church in Alexandria will hold a prayer celebration to welcome her home at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Wyffels said the community has rallied around the girl's family.
"Part of the duty right now is to respect this family and their privacy and to allow them to have as normal of a life as they can," he said. "Our community has been very, very supportive and people have reached out on how they can help and whether they can do something that's positive for them in a caring and compassionate way."