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Bethel mother pleads guilty to murdering her adopted daughter

Dean Swope

At around 4:30 a.m. on March 12, 2021, the Bethel Police Department received a report that 36-year-old Stephanie Olrun had "lost control,” and that her two-year-old adopted daughter, Jane Olrun, was no longer alive. According to court documents, police officers went to Olrun’s house and found the two-year-old girl lying on a towel with her eyes slightly open. She was unresponsive.

Officers immediately performed CPR until the paramedics took over, then transported Jane to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Regional Hospital. A team of doctors and nurses were unable to revive her. Jane was declared dead just 10 minutes after arriving at the hospital, according to court documents.

Olrun was arrested and did not talk to police officers. According to court documents, Olrun did not show emotion when officers told her that Jane was dead. At her arraignment on March 13, 2021, she pleaded not guilty to a charge of first degree murder. That changed a little less than three years later, on Jan. 16, 2024.

Assistant Attorney General Bailey Woolfstead of the Office of Special Prosecutions Rural Prosecution Unit was the prosecutor in the case.

“Stephanie Olrun pled guilty to murder in the second degree for the 2021 murder of her adopted two-year-old daughter, Jane Olrun. She reached a rule of what's called a rule 11 agreement with the state of Alaska, which is also known as a plea agreement with the state. Her sentencing will be up to the judge. So ultimately it will be Judge Peters who determines the appropriate sentence for Miss Olrun. She has a sentencing range of 20 years to 99 years total. But as part of the agreement, there will be a cap, so a maximum on active time such as the time to serve portion of her sentence of 60 years,” Woolfstead said.

At a Jan. 16 hearing, Superior Court Judge Nathaniel Peters heard the facts of the case, including the autopsy report that noted Jane was severely malnourished and had 40 injuries on her body. The injuries ranged from fresh, to healing, to healed at the time of her death.

Woolfstead said that it was emotional for everyone in court, including Olrun.

“She was present today in person, as were a couple of her family members. And she cried throughout the hearing. She was clearly upset throughout the process. But she answered the questions from the colloquy appropriately and ultimately, in the end, pled guilty to the murder charge,” said Woolfstead.

Peters will determine Olrun’s sentence after a hearing scheduled between Aug. 26 and Aug. 28, 2024.

Francisco Martínezcuello was the KYUK News Reporting Fellow from November 2022 through January 2024. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley School of Journalism. He is also a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.
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