The tragic case of Alayna Ertl has captured the attention of a horrified nation; now a preliminary autopsy report has been issued regarding the cause of the kidnapped and murdered 5-year-old’s cause of death. Little Alayna Ertl was reported missing early in the morning of Saturday, August 20, along with her father’s truck and Zachary Todd Anderson, the 25-year-old family friend who allegedly abducted her. According to multiple reports, Anderson had been staying overnight as a guest of Alayna Ertl’s parents at the time of her abduction.
An Amber Alert was issued for the missing and endangered Alayna Ertl hours after she was reported missing, prompting some to question why it takes so long for alerts to be issued in such cases. Only a few hours later, at around 4:30 p.m., the missing Minnesota girl’s body was found about 80 miles from her home. Her father’s stolen truck was also recovered, and Anderson was arrested on suspicion of the little girl’s kidnapping and murder.
Now, as SC Times reports, Alayna Ertl’s autopsy has been conducted and a preliminary report released to the public
While few details have been forthcoming regarding the Alayna Ertl autopsy and the cause of the 5-year-old girl’s tragic death, the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office did have a few comments about the death of Alayna Ertl late Sunday night. According to the local medical examiner’s autopsy, Alayna Ertl died of “homicidal violence.”
Her suspected kidnapper and killer has yet to be charged in her abduction and death, as prosecutors in the Alayna Ertl case have been waiting on full autopsy results. Anderson is currently in the Crow Wing County Jail, where he is being held on suspicion of the little girl’s death.
While authorities are being tight-lipped about what kind of violence cost Alayna Ertl her life, they have clarified what “homicidal violence” means. In a nutshell, it means that her autopsy revealed that the death of Alayna Ertl was no accident. It was an “intentional death by violent means.”
Official charges in the murder of Alayna Ertl are expected to be handed down early Tuesday, after a more comprehensive autopsy can be completed. Meeker County Sheriff Brian Cruze has said that he expects Anderson to be charged for his alleged role in the abduction and death of Alayna Ertl before noon local time on August 23.
As for the suspect’s relationship with the Ertl family, it has been reported that Anderson was a close friend of the family and even a co-worker of Alayna Ertl’s father. He had been to and even spent a night at the residence before the abduction and murder of Alayna Ertl, and a preliminary investigation indicates that the family had no reason to believe that he intended to harm the 5-year-old.
“Our suspect in this case is a family friend, co-worker of the victim’s father, and was staying the night up in Watkins last night. He had previously been to that residence and spent a night here and there — so he’s not a stranger and not new to the residence, but was just there for the night.”
“We have no known predatory sexual offender information on him or anything like that. We have no known motive. We are at a loss as to why this happened at this time.”
It is possible that more comprehensive autopsy results in the case of Alayna Ertl may answer some of the lingering questions facing law enforcement and the little girl’s family.
According to reports, the body of Alayna Ertl was found near property owned by Anderson’s family in Cass Count, Minnesota. The stolen truck was found on the family’s property. Reportedly, the little girl’s body had been hidden some distance away in a swampy, marshy area.
Anderson himself was flushed out of the wooded area by police dogs and arrested without resistance or violence.
The suspected killer of Alayna Ertl is being held without bond pending the charges that are expected to be filed tomorrow; further autopsy results will likely help investigators to determine precisely what those charges should be.
[Photo by Meeker County Sheriff’s Office]