WATKINS, Minn. - The community of Watkins is still in shock over the abduction and murder of five-year-old Alayna Ertl.
Authorities believe Ertl was taken from her Watkins home early Saturday morning by a friend and co-worker of Alayna's father. The girl's parents realized she was gone around 8 a.m. Her father's truck was also missing.
Authorities issued an Amber Alert early Saturday afternoon. By Saturday evening, they located the man they believe abducted Ertl on his family's property near Motley in rural Cass County. Authorities say information provided by the suspect lead them to a swampy area a few hundred yards from a cabin where Ertl's body was discovered.
The Ramsey County Medical Examiner released a preliminary autopsy report late Sunday which states Ertl died of "homicidal violence."
"You hear about that in other places. Then have it be someone you know? I was just shocked,” said Jane Fisher, a friend of the Ertls. “It's like losing a part of your family when something like that happens."
On Sunday, investigators went door-to-door talking to residents in hopes of getting more clues about the girl's abduction and murder. KARE 11 reached out to the family of Alayna Ertl who politely declined an interview request.
The suspect is being held in the Crow Wing County Jail and is expected in court this week to face kidnapping and murder charges. It is KARE 11's policy not to name suspects until they are formally charged with a crime.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to "ease some of the family's burdens they are experiencing as they deal with this tremendous loss."
Anyone that may have information about the case is asked to call the Meeker County Sheriff's Office at 320-693-5400.