The day had started normally enough – and yet it would turn out anything but. Earl Melchert, a 65-year-old farmer and factory manager from western Minnesota, was on his way to work when he realized that he’d forgotten his diesel can. And if Melchert was to cut back the grass that evening, then he would need to fill the container.
So, the farmer drove back home to pick up the can – and it was then that he noticed a curious figure half a mile away in one of his fields. “I thought at first it was a deer,” Melchert subsequently told The New York Times. The figure was not a deer, though; it was a person of significant interest.
According to police statistics, the most crucial period of any missing person case is the first day. After that, the odds of a positive resolution start to diminish. And 15-year-old Jasmine Block had been missing for 29 days by the time Melchert spotted a figure in his field. On that basis, the outlook for Jasmine seemed to be grim.