Alayna Ertl disappeared from her family home in Watkins, Minnesota, on August 20, 2016. The girl, who was five years old at the time, was last seen at 2:30 a.m. by her mother. In the morning, her parents found that Alayna, the family’s overnight house guest and their vehicle had all vanished.
Alayna lived with her brother Carter and parents Matthew and Kayla in Watkins, a small community around 70 miles northwest of Minneapolis. Alayna was born on October 31, 2010. The little girl liked to accompany her father when he went hunting and adored My Little Pony toys. “She would come in our room every morning and give us a kiss good morning and make sure everybody else was OK,” Kayla told CBS Minnesota in October 2016.
The evening before Alayna went missing, her father played softball with his co-worker, Zachary Anderson. The pair then went off to meet some other friends. Because Anderson lived an hour’s drive away, he would sometimes stay over at Matthew’s house after their softball games.