Alayna Jeanne Ertl Photos: Remembering the Murdered Minnesota Child

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Alayna Ertl, just 5-years-old, disappeared from her family home in Watkins, Minnesota, on Saturday, August 20. Watkins is a small town of just under 1,000 people located in central Minnesota. According to the AMBER alert put out, Alayna's mother, Kayla, had put her to sleep around 2 a.m. that morning. At 8 a.m., when she checked on the little girl, she discovered her missing. The AMBER alert was issued later that afternoon. It sought not only Alayna but also a family friend, Zach Anderson, whom police say was staying overnight in the home and was a co-worker of Alayna's father, Matt. Police say Anderson, 26, took Matt Ertl's work truck, which had Matt's cell phone in it. They were able to ping the cell phone to help track his whereabouts. Eventually, police descended on a property owned by Anderson's family, and they found Anderson in a cabin not far away, said NBC News. Authorities say they arrested Anderson and used information from him and other investigative information to discover the child's murdered body in a wooded residential park area located more than an hour from where Alayna disappeared. All of this happened in the span of less than one full day. On Facebook, Alayna's mother and many in the traumatized community posted photos of the murdered child, sometimes that included Alayna with angel's wings or with Jesus Christ. Anderson had not yet been charged as of Aug. 22, but he was being held in the local jail under suspicion of murder. Police had not revealed details of how Alayna died; however, the medical examiner said the child died from homicidal violence. Alayna Ertl. (Facebook)