Medical Examiner Cannot Determine Cause of Death in Poplar Baby

kenzley olson


The woman set to plead guilty Monday to the murder of a Poplar baby had smoked methamphetamine with a friend while the baby fought for her life, according to newly filed court documents.

Janelle Red Dog, 42, has agreed to plead guilty to the charge of second degree murder for the death of Kenzley Olson, 1, in April of 2016.

The change of plea hearing is set for Monday in U.S. District Court in Great Falls.

According to documents filed Thursday, Red Dog had been caring for Olson for three to four weeks prior to her death.

Shortly before her murder, Olson was sick was the flu and had developed symptoms of pneumonia.

Red Dog told authorities that Olson had been crying a lot and she could not be consoled.

Red Dog said she hit the girl repeatedly out of frustration, according to court documents.

After the final blow, Olson began to have a seizure.

Red Dog reported that the baby’s breathing became labored and she was clenching her teeth.

Olson eventually stopped seizing and became unconscious, according to court documents.

Later that night, a man stopped by the home to smoke methamphetamine with Red Dog.

Red Dog said she had been in and out of Olson’s room to check on her.

Red Dog eventually decided to take Olson to the hospital, but the baby stopped breathing on the way to the hospital.

According to court documents, Red Dog believed the baby was dead so she stuffed her body in a duffel bag and threw the bag in a trash can.

Red Dog then went home and fell asleep.

The next morning, Red Dog called authorities to report Olson missing.

Authorities issued an Amber Alert and community members began searching the Fort Peck Indian Reservation for the victim.

Red Dog eventually confessed to the murder and directed law enforcement to the victim’s body.

The baby was found dead.

An autopsy revealed Olson had numerous bruises from head to toe that indicated a pattern of long-term abuse.

Blunt force trauma was the determined cause of death.

But medical examiners could not determine if Olson had been dead at the time she was placed in the bag and left outside, so exposure to the cold could not be ruled out as a contributing factor to the girl’s death.

Prosecutors could have charged Red Dog with first degree murder, but instead opted for the lesser charge.

It’s unclear what sentence prosecutors might recommend at sentencing.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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