Young Minnesota Murder Victim Laid to Rest
Watkins, MN (KROC AM News) - The young Minnesota girl who was kidnapped from her home last Saturday and later sexually assaulted and killed was laid to rest Friday.
The funeral for 5-year-old Alayna Ertl was held at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Watkins, her hometown.
According to her obituary:
Alayna Jeanne Ertl was born on October 31, 2010 at St. Cloud, MN. She was the daughter of Matt and Kayla (Welle) Ertl. Alayna completed pre-school at Eden Valley-Watkins Elementary School.
Alayna gave joy to our lives by always having a smile and kind words to say. She was an animal lover, a princess, a singer, a great friend to everyone she met, and was our peanut. She loved learning from her brother and always gave the best hugs.
Police say she was kidnapped by a family friend who hid her body in a swamp in Cass County. Murder and other charges were filed Tuesday against 25-year-old Zachary Anderson.
The criminal complaint says Anderson and the little girl’s father were involved in a weekend softball event before the father returned to the family’s home in Watkins around 2:30 AM Saturday, which is when her parents moved a sleeping Alayna Ertl from a couch to her bed. Anderson arrived at the residence around an hour later and the two men stayed up until approximately 4 AM. Her parents discovered the child was missing around 8:30 Saturday morning. They also noted Anderson was gone and the family’s pickup truck was missing, which eventually led authorities to issue a statewide Amber Alert.
The charges say Anderson’s father heard the alert and told investigators they might find his son at the family’s cabin in Cass County. When they arrived, they discovered the stolen pickup truck and found a suicide note inside the cabin. Anderson was located nearby and he eventually led authorities to the swampy area where the young victim’s body was found.