BILLINGS, Mont. — A woman beat to death a 1-year-old girl on a rural Montana Indian Reservation, threw the baby's body into a dumpster and reported her missing before confessing to the crime a day later, a federal investigator testified Friday.
Janelle Red Dog, 42, appeared in tribal court on the Fort Peck Reservation, about 20 miles from the U.S.-Canada border, and was ordered back into custody without bond, court officials said. Tribal prosecutors are expected to charge her by Tuesday, when she is scheduled for another hearing.
Bureau of Indian Affairs investigator Ken Trottier testified that Red Dog confessed to punching Kenzley Olson several times on Tuesday, killing her, KTMF-TV reported. She then put the girl's body in a duffel bag and threw it in a dumpster, he said.
Red Dog reported Kenzley missing hours later, prompting authorities to issue an alert that said the girl was kidnapped by a man and a woman from North Dakota. The man and woman turned out to not be involved, and the alert was cancelled after Red Dog reportedly confessed and drew a map to Kenzley's body, according to KTMF.
Red Dog's attorney, Mary Zemyan, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.
Kenzley's neighbor Peter Dupree said Red Dog had been caring for the child while her mother was away, but that could not be confirmed.
Dupree said he watched teams of local and federal investigators working through the neighborhood, including looking through trash bins in the alleys that run behind Kenzley's house.
"It's so sad," he said. "This is a baby who was probably crawling and everything else."
It was the second major event in recent weeks to rattle the reservation, home to the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes. In late February, a man allegedly abducted a 4-year-old girl from a park in the reservation town of Wolf Point. She was found alive several days later.
Authorities say the man sexually assaulted and attempted to kill the girl. He has pleaded not guilty.
Fort Peck Tribal Chairman Floyd Azure said Friday that Kenzley's death and the kidnapping reflected a rising drug epidemic that his Montana reservation has failed to address.
Investigators haven't publicly linked either case to drugs, but Azure told The Associated Press the use of methamphetamine was at the root of both crimes.
"What it's coming down to is our society is basically allowing this to be the norm," he said. "We are allowing this to happen by not speaking out."
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