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Charges filed, new details emerge in missing girl case

Three men were charged with a total of 12 felonies Thursday for allegedly kidnapping and assaulting a 15-year-old Alexandria girl over a 29-day period until the girl escaped and they were arrested.

Thomas Barker, 32, of Carlos, faces six charges, including two counts of kidnapping, two counts of criminal sexual conduct, second-degree assault and false imprisonment.

Steven Powers, 20, of Benson, was charged with kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct and false imprisonment.

Barker's roommate, Joshua Lee Holby, 31, was charged with two counts of kidnapping and false imprisonment. He did not sexually assault the girl, according to the criminal complaint.

New details — a close call

The criminal complaint offers new details of the case — including a time on Aug. 30 when a Douglas County sheriff's deputy visited the Carlos home where the girl, identified only as "Jane Doe" in the complaint, was taken.

The deputy was responding to a report that stolen property had been spotted at the home. The deputy knocked on the doors and windows and could hear people inside, but no one answered the door.

The deputy left a note asking Barker to contact him and Barker called him the next day, saying that he was in Glenwood and that he would call the deputy back the following day to make arrangements to meet him in Carlos.

Barker never called again and the close call prompted them to move the girl to another location, according to the complaint.

How it began

Other new details from the complaint:

After she escaped from the men, the girl told authorities what happened on the night of Aug. 8 when she went missing. She said that Barker, the father of one of her friends, came to her home and told her that his son was not behaving and that he needed help.

Barker drove to his Carlos residence, used zip-ties to restrain her, brandished a firearm and threatened to kill her.

About two weeks after she was abducted, Barker picked up Powers in Mankato and brought him to Carlos without telling him about the girl. Barker told Powers that he and Holby needed to leave for a short time and he instructed him not to go into his bedroom.

Curious, Powers went into the bedroom and discovered the girl locked in the closet but he didn't free her or try to contact law enforcement.

Fighting for her life

The girl said that shortly after her abduction, Barker put her in a bathtub while she was restrained and tried to drown her. She fought Barker, who has cerebral palsy, which impairs his physical ability, and he eventually gave up.

Another time, the girl said she was put in a duffle bag and Barker and Holby placed her in the bathtub but she thwarted their efforts by sticking her head out of a hole in the bag.

During a third incident, she was forced to stand on a bucket while a rope or cord was placed around her neck. Holby then forced her off of the bucket, she said, and she described a period in which she couldn't breathe.

The girl said that Powers also forced her to snort a line of "white powder."

On the run

When the girl was taken away from the home, she was put into a duffle bag and placed in the back of a truck that was covered.

The men traveled to Pope County near Glenwood where they spent the night in a cornfield in their vehicle.

They later traveled to an abandoned cabin near Barrett where Powers used a screwdriver to gain access.

The arrests

On Sept. 5, a Barrett man was returning to his rural home and saw a female was running toward him. He recognized her as the missing Alexandria girl. She said she had been kidnapped and had to swim across a lake to escape.

The man called 911 as she got into his vehicle and scrunched down so she couldn't be seen.

As officers were responding, she told the man that a dark car passing their position was one of her abductors who was looking for her. The man relayed that information to officers.

The vehicle was stopped and the driver, Steven Powers, was taken into custody.

While in an ambulance receiving care, she told officers that her captors were Barker, Holby and Powers. She said Barker has a handgun and that she had escaped.

Later that afternoon, a state trooper received an alert for a 1995 green Nissan pickup truck and that the occupants were wanted in connection with the kidnapping. Less than a minute later, the trooper saw a vehicle matching the description pass him on Highway 28 between Glenwood and Starbuck.

The trooper turned and followed the pickup until more officers could assist in a high-risk stop. Holby and Barker were then removed from the vehicle at gunpoint and transported to the Douglas County Jail.

What's next for the suspects

All three suspects remain in custody at the Douglas County Jail. Barker and Powers are being held on a $2 million bond, without conditions, while Holby's bond was set at $1.5 million.

They are scheduled to make their next court appearance on Sept. 18.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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