The man who kidnapped a 15-year-old Alexandria girl, holding her captive for 29 days in 2017 while repeatedly assaulting her, has been sentenced to nearly 24 years in prison.
Thomas Jay Barker, 33, of Carlos, Minn., was sentenced to jail Friday in Douglas County District Court for kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct, both felonies.
The teenager told police she was repeatedly sexually assaulted and had thwarted attempts by Barker and two men to drown her before she eventually escaped.
According to the criminal complaint, Barker, the father of one of the girl's friends, visited her on Aug. 8, 2017, when she was home alone and asked her to come with him to his house to try to talk to his son, who wasn't behaving. Once there, Barker used zip ties to restrain the girl, displayed a handgun and threatened to kill her before raping her.
The girl's mother reported her missing and people searched for the teen and posted missing person fliers.
For most of the 29 days, the girl later told police, she was held in a closet in Barker's bedroom, fed fast food and water and repeatedly assaulted. Once, she said, Barker placed her in a bathtub and restrained her with zip ties because, she believed, he wanted to drown her; she resisted, and he gave up.
Another time, she said, Barker and Joshua Lee Holby, 33, also of Carlos, Minn., forced her into a duffel bag and set the bag in the bathtub, but the girl managed to stick her head out of a hole in the bag. The men also placed a rope or cord around her neck and made her stand on a bucket, trying to hang her, she told police.
Barker sexually assaulted her several times, while Steven Michael Samuel Powers, 21, of Benson, Minn., sexually assaulted her once, she said.
The men later placed the girl in a duffel bag and drove to an abandoned house about 30 miles away. When they left to get some pizza and gas, the teen escaped, swimming across a lake and running through a field before reaching a farmer for help. The farmer was given a $7,000 reward for helping find the girl. He later gave the money to the victim.
"This has been a very long process, and we are glad to be done," the victim's mother said in court, according to the Alexandria Echo Press.
Holby was charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment and is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 8. Powers was charged with kidnapping, second-degree criminal sexual conduct and false imprisonment and is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 16.