Man Charged with Kidnapping, Murder, Sexual Assault of 5-Year-Old
A man suspected of abducting his co-worker’s 5-year-old from her home and killing her has been charged.
Zachary Todd Anderson, 25, of Coon Rapids, appeared in court Tuesday and is charged with Intentional Murder in the 2nd Degree, Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First Degree, Kidnapping and Unauthorized use of a Motor Vehicle, the Cass County Attorney’s Office says.
The criminal complaint alleges that Anderson abducted 5-year-old Alayna Ertl, and stole a 2002 GMC pick-up, from the girl’s home in Meeker County, Minnesota prior to 8:30 a.m. on Saturday August 20th. The vehicle was discovered located at a cabin owned by Anderson’s family in rural Cass County. Anderson was located and arrested in a swamp a short distance away.
He subsequently led officers to a different area of the swamp where he said the girl’s body could be located under some debris. Law enforcement officials ultimately discovered the victim submerged in knee deep water and covered by brush and other debris. A preliminary autopsy ruled the cause of death to be homicidal violence due to strangulation and blunt force trauma. The medical examiner also found evidence of a sexual assault perpetrated upon the victim.
2nd Degree Intentional Murder carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison; Kidnapping carries a maximum penalty of 40 years; First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison; and Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison.
The criminal investigation is ongoing and is being conducted by officers, agents and investigators of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, the Meeker County Sheriff’s Office, the Baxter police Department, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and other area law enforcement agencies.
The presiding Judge set bail at 2-million-dollars without conditions and 1-million-dollars with conditions. Anderson’s next court appearance is scheduled for October 10, 2016 at 1:30 p.m.