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—It was Tuesday, Sept. 5, when something on the law enforcement scanner caught my attention. "She says her name is Jasmine and she matches the description," said a voice. The name Jasmine had become one heard often in our community, as 15-year-old Jasmine Block had been missing for nearly one month. Flyers were hung in storefronts and on bulletin boards, advertising the search for her. They adorned many vehicles in the area as well. "This can't be real," I remember thinking as the scanner went off. "This has to be someone playing a sick joke."
As of Friday, Dec.1, Alexandria's Bello Cucina location has permanently closed its doors. A post on the restaurant's Facebook page read, "Due to lack of qualified staffing, the Alexandria location will no longer be open." The restaurant's front door had a sign reading the same. Before closing, Bello Cucina had been for sale since October, after owner Jason Mueller's heart attack. The Fergus Falls and Morris locations are currently for sale, while the Marshall, Spicer and St. Joseph locations are not.
ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — With her three children back under one roof, Sarah Block says she can rest easy — well, as easy as one can rest with three teenage girls. In the past two and a half months, the Block family has been doing its best to get back to normal life after police say 15-year-old Jasmine was abducted and held against her will by three men for nearly one month before she escaped Sept. 5.
PARKERS PRAIRIE, Minn. — A hypothetical zombie apocalypse is to blame for recent controversy at Parkers Prairie High School. A teacher gave ninth-grade geography students an assignment that Principal Carey Johnson initially said is part of a nationally recognized curriculum called Zombie-Based Learning. One of the questions asked students to choose three people to sacrifice during a zombie apocalypse and explain why they were chosen. The assignment from teacher angered some parents of ninth-graders, such as Michelle Diedrich.
A Douglas County man said Friday he is awaiting more information from doctors as he recovers from having his arm pinned inside a piece of farm machinery. By phone on Friday, Nov. 10, Todd Wunderlich, 54, of Parkers Prairie, said he is doing well and is waiting to find out more about the extent of his injuries.
ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — A 24-year-old man arrested in connection to a fatal shooting at the University of Utah on Monday, Oct. 30, has ties to Alexandria. The suspect, Austin Boutain, is also suspected of being connected to a homicide in Colorado, police said Tuesday. He has a brother who lives in Alexandria and other family in Minnesota.
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. — 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.