By Jennifer Mayerle


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A town shocked by the kidnapping and killing of a 5-year-old girl, turned out Tuesday night to remember her. Alayna Ertl died Saturday after a friend of her parents took her from their home in Watkins. Family, friends, and strangers held a candlelight vigil at a church near her home.

Pink and purple balloons filled the night sky, as kids released them to honor their friend, Alayna..

“She is not alive and she is with God,” 6-year-old Melody Staten said.

Sounds of Frozen, Alayna’s favorite, played before prayer.

“Beautiful, shy, liked to play,” Kris Cates, dad Matt Ertl’s cousin said.

Alayna Ertl (credit: CBS)

Alayna Ertl (credit: CBS)

More people than you could count filled the St. Anthony Catholic Church parking lot, a way to come together to remember a vibrant girl who was never without a smile. Even strangers felt called to be there.

“You just want to be here to support the community and the family for this little girl who lost her life, it’s just, it’s sad,” Kristin Grebinoski said,

Many wrestle with why the 5-year-old with so much life ahead of her was taken.

“I just want to know why what possesses people to do this,” Cates said.

Parents who have lost a child share in the family’s sorrow.

“I’m so sorry that this happened to them, I’m so sorry it happened to her, it shouldn’t, no parent should ever lose their children. She had too much life left in her too much life,” Elaine Welle said.

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Jennifer Mayerle