Fillmore County couple pleads not guilty to child abuse

PRESTON, Minn. – A Fillmore County couple is pleading not guilty to multiple charges of mistreating a child.

Angela Lynn Stewart, 31, and 36-year-old Ryan Robert Rechtzigel, both of Ostrander, are charged with neglect of a child resulting in substantial harm, two counts of false imprisonment, malicious punishment of a child, third-degree assault, past pattern of child abuse, possession of marijuana, storing methamphetamine waste products in the presence of a child and storing methamphetamine paraphernalia in the presence of a child.

Angela Stewart
Angela Stewart

Authorities say that Stewart and Rechtzigel were meth addicts who had their three children taken away by Social Services.  Those children were returned to their parents in early 2016.

After someone reported some concern about Stewart and Rechtzigel’s 5-year-old, an investigation led the Ostrander Police Department to Stewart and Rechtzigel’s home, where an officer allegedly found the 5-year-old apparently being held prisoner in an upstairs room.  Authorities say the room was blocked off with a piece of plywood that was held in place with hooks on the outside, so no one in the upstairs room could get downstairs.

According to the criminal complaint, the 5-year-old was in an upstairs room that was cool as if it was not heated.  The child was allegedly wearing only pajamas, with no socks or shoes, and had a variety of apparent injuries including bruising, cuts and scrapes, a mark that looked like a rope burn, a small open wound, an elbow that seemed to have been broken or dislocated, many red marks and a round shape like a water blister consistent with a burn.  The child also claimed to have been hit on the top of the head with an object and had hair missing and scabs on the top of the head.

Ryan Rechtzigel
Ryan Rechtzigel

Further investigation allegedly found cell phone photos and video of what appears to be feces on the 5-year-old’s face and upper chest area.  Another video allegedly shows the child being made to do deep knee bends for about 48 minutes straight.  Law enforcement also says it found messages between Stewart and Rechtzigel where they allegedly described mistreating the child, including one message that allegedly stated, “Think of the worst way to torture (the child) and let me know when you get home.”

Not guilty pleas to all charges have been entered for Stewart and Rechtzigel.  No trial date has been set.

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