Zachary Todd Anderson a Minnesota man pleads guilty to sexually assaulting and strangling his co worker and friend’s five year old daughter sentenced to life.
Zachary Todd Anderson a 27 year old Minnesota man who admitted to abducting, raping and strangling to death the five year old daughter of his friend and co worker was on Friday sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.
The sentencing comes after Zachary Anderson who’d been scheduled for a pre trial hearing instead entered a guilty plea to the crimes he was charged with.
The admission was in stark contrast to an October 2017 arraignment where Anderson had pled not guilty to all 19 charges against him, including first-degree murder, first-degree criminal sexual conduct, felony kidnapping and interfering with a dead body.
The charges against the Coon Rapids resident stem from Anderson in the early morning hours of August 20, 2016, kidnapping Alayna Ertl from her home in Watkins, about 70 miles northwest of Minneapolis.
Alayna’s body was found later that day.
Anderson pleaded guilty to first-degree murder involving first-degree criminal sexual conduct with sexual penetration, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.
Following entering his guilty plea, Anderson was immediately sentenced to the mandatory penalty of life imprisonment without the possibility of early release.
An autopsy showed Alayna died from ‘homicidal violence,’ which included strangulation and blunt force trauma to her head.
The child had also been sexually assaulted, according to the criminal complaint.
Zachary Todd Anderson timeline of sexual fantasy gone morbidly wrong:
The crimes occurred after Anderson, a friend of the family had spent Friday night at the Ertl family’s house.
Alayna was last seen when she was put to bed around 2am on August 20.
She and Anderson were gone by morning along with the family’s 2002 GMC Sierra truck.
He was found hours later nearby his family’s cabin near Motley, about 80 miles to the north.
When Anderson’s father found out about the abduction he called the sheriff’s office and reported that he believed his son was involved.
He said Anderson had called earlier that day and asked for permission to go to their family cabin in Motley.
Investigators said they found the stolen 2002 GMC Sierra hidden in a wooded area near the cabin.
They also found a single-shot 20-gauge shotgun on the kitchen table with multiple rounds spilled about.
Officers also said they found an apparent suicide note with blood on it.
Anderson was arrested after being found in knee-deep water in a swampy area shortly after police began their search.
They said he had open cuts on his left wrist.
Police said he told them Alayna was hidden in the swamp under some debris. He then showed them the location.
Alayna’s body was discovered near Wilderness Park outside of Motley in rural Cass County.
Anderson was a co-worker of Ertl’s father and had stayed at the home on previous occasions.
How or why Anderson came to choose to abuse his fried and coworker’s daughter remained unclear.
Days later, nearly 1,000 mourners gathered at the local church in Watkins for Alayna’s funeral.