OSTRANDER, Minn. - A couple in Fillmore county faces a laundry list of criminal charges involving the abuse annd imprisonment of their 5-year-old daughter.
Ryan Rechtzigel and Angela Stewart are charged with a total of 18 offenses ranging from malicious punishment of a child and false imprisonment to drug possession.
A criminal complaint details how a parole agent searching for Rechtzigel uncovered concerns that the 5-year-old victim had not been in school or seen in approximately a month. When authorities went to search the couple's home in Ostrander they found the upper level of the home closed off with plywood. They removed the barrier and found the child in an unheated area in pajamas with no shoes or socks. She was covered in bruises, cuts, red marks, and had what appeared to be a broken or dislocated elbow.
Investigators searched the home and found methamphetamine traces and paraphernalia. They also confiscated cell phones which contained pictures and videos documenting abuse of the 5-year-old, including images of her face smeared with feces. The videos showed the child being forced to do deep knee bends with a plastic bin filled with objects on her head.
The phones were also filled with text messages between Rechtzigel and Stewart referring to the little girl as a "retard", discussing "locking her down" and torturing her. and talking about smoking meth.
Social services has placed the 5-year-old and her two siblings, ages 2 and 7 months, in foster care. The children had previously been removed from Rechtzigel and Stewart's care due to the couple's methamphetamine use, but were returned to them in April of 2016.
When questioned by investigators Stewart said the girl had been kept upstairs for the past several weeks because she had been naughty. She also said there was little bond between the couple and their daughter because she had been taken from them at six months of age, and lived in foster care until she was four.