Man indicted for murder and sexual assault of 5-year-old Watkins girl

-  A Cass County grand jury indicted a man, who allegedly kidnapped and killed a five-year-old Watkins girl, for murder and sexual assault.

In total, the grand jury indicted 25-year-old Zachary Todd Anderson of Coon Rapids, Minn. on19 counts. Eight of those counts are of first degree murder. Three counts are related to criminal sexual conduct. There are also four counts of kidnapping. He was arraigned on the indictment on Friday.

According to the criminal complaint, Anderson kidnapped five-year-old Alayna Ertl from her home in Watkins in August. He drove her father's truck to the Anderson's family cabin in Cass County. Authorities issued an AMBER Alert after Alayna's disappearance.

Officers later arrested Anderson. He led officers to a part of the swamp and told them the girl's body was under debris. Officials found her body in knee-deep water underneath brush and other debris.

A preliminary autopsy noted the girl's cause of death was homicidal violence due to strangulation and blunt force trauma. There was also evidence of sexual assault.

RECAP: 5-year-old Minnesota girl died of homicidal violence after AMBER Alert

 


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