Charges: Michigan trucker raped 15-year-old numerous times before being rescued in Minnesota

The teenager was able to text 911 for help while in Minnesota.
Publish date:
Kenneth Zehnder

A 34-year-old Michigan man arrested on I-94 in Minnesota has been charged with raping a teenage girl in his semi truck.

The 15-year-old girl was rescued after she sent texts to 911 just before 10:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 19, saying she was in a relative's semi-trailer going west on Interstate 94. 

She was able provide authorities with a description of the semi, which was later located approximately 20 miles southeast of Fargo by Minnesota State Patrol troopers and deputies from the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office. 

According to charging documents, the teen had been traveling with Kenneth George Zehnder, 34, of Lexington, Michigan, for a week and said she had been sexually assaulted by him numerous times during the trip. 

She informed investigators that she was asleep in the semi cab when she awoke to Zehnder's genitals near her face. She pretended to be asleep, but Zehnder raped her, according to the criminal complaint. 

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She was able to text 911 for help at 10:23 a.m., just hours after the sexual assault. 

GPS data from the trucking company revealed that Zehnder logged himself on a break from 8:08-8:40 a.m. that day, and the data placed him at a rest area located in Avon Township in Stearns County, approximately five miles southeast of Albany. 

The child also informed investigators that Zehnder sexually assaulted her numerous times over the last three years.

If convicted of 1st-degree criminal sexual conduct, Zehnder faces up to 30 years in prison.

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