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Amber alert for five-year-old girl cancelled, guest of her parents suspected of killing child

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Fourth Estate Staff

Watkins, MN, United States (4E) – The Amber alert for a five-year-old girl was cancelled after officials founder her body in Cass County hours after she went missing from her home in Watkins.

Meeker County sheriff Brian Cruze said that investigators found the body of Alayna Ertl in an area that was 150 miles from where she went missing. The suspect was identified as 26-year-old Zachary Todd Anderson of Coon Rapids. He reportedly took the girl from the home where he was staying. He was the guest of the parents of Ertl . Anderson is now in custody and is accused of murder.

Ertl was last seen when she was placed to bed at around 2 A.M. on Saturday and by 8 A.M. on Sunday, her mother discovered she was missing. They also discovered that Anderson and the pickup truck of Ertl’s father were missing.

Cruze said in a statement that they believe the incident was not a stranger-type situation since he spent the night at the home of Ertl the night before she went missing. He added, “The suspect is a coworker, family friend of the child’s father. All morning we’ve been following up leads and this has been a very fluid investigation and it continues to be so.”

Cruze continued to reveal that they have no known predatory sexual offender information about the suspect and they do not know what the motive is. The only run-in of Anderson with the law is related to minor traffic violation. The area where Anderson was apprehended by authorities was also the area where the body of the five-year-old child was found.

It is not yet clear what the cause of death of Ertl is.

Authorities are asking for witnesses or anyone who has information about Anderson and Ertl on Saturday to call Meeker County Dispatch at 320-693-5400.


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