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Third man pleads guilty in central Minn. kidnapping case

Thomas Barker, Steven Powers and Joshua Holby

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — Steven Powers, the last of three men charged in connection with the 2017 abduction of a 15-year-old Alexandria girl, entered a guilty plea Wednesday, Nov. 21, in Douglas County District Court.

The girl, who is now 16, gained national attention after police say she escaped from three men who held her captive for nearly a month. She disappeared from her Alexandria home in August 2017.

She escaped after being left alone when her captors went out for food. She ran across a field and swam across part of a lake in rural Grant County before finding help.

Powers, 21, of Mankato, pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct in the second degree and kidnapping. He is expected to be sentenced to 104 months in prison.

“I feel so much better now that all three have pleaded guilty,” said the girl’s mother. “This has dragged on too long. And of course I would like to see all of them spend their whole lives in prison, but it’s not up to me.”

Powers takes the stand

During questioning, Powers said he found the juvenile girl locked in a closet at the home of Thomas Barker, one of the other men charged in the case.

When asked if he had sexual relations with the minor child, Powers said he did.

When asked how the men transported the girl from Barker’s home in Carlos to a home in Grant County, he said he zipped a her into a duffel bag, which Joshua Holby, the third man charged in the case, loaded into the back of a truck. Powers then drove to Grant County.

Powers’ sentencing was set for Jan. 16.

The other men

In July, Barker, 33, of Carlos, pleaded guilty to kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct in the first degree with a dangerous weapon and criminal sexual conduct in the first degree causing fear of great bodily harm. All are felony-level charges.

Under the terms of an agreement between the prosecution and Barker’s attorney, Barker is expected to be sentenced to 25 years in prison. His sentencing hearing is set for Friday, Nov. 30, at 9 a.m.

Holby, 32, of Carlos, pleaded guilty in September to two counts of kidnapping, a felony offense. Under the guidelines and because he has no prior criminal record, Holby is expected to be sentenced to 86 months in prison. His sentencing is set for Tuesday, Jan. 8.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in more than 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

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