(Reuters) - Police in Minnesota arrested a man on probable cause of murder and kidnapping after a 5-year-old girl was found dead near his family's cabin, authorities said.

The girl, Alayna Ertl, of Watkins, about 50 miles northwest of Minneapolis, went missing from her home early on Saturday. House guest Zachary Anderson, 25, was gone as well, along with an Ertl family car, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said in a statement on Sunday.

Sheriff's deputies found the vehicle in Cass County, where Anderson's family had a cabin. Anderson was arrested about a quarter-mile from the house, and Alayna's body was found in a wooded area nearby.

A preliminary autopsy by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office said that the girl died from "homicidal violence," the statement said.


In an interview with Minneapolis' KARE-11 television, Meeker County Sheriff Brian Cruze described Anderson as a family friend and a co-worker of Alayna's father who had been spending the night.

Anderson, a resident of Coon Rapids, is being held on probable cause of murder and kidnapping, the Department of Public Safety statement said.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington)