A 7-day-old Wisconsin baby, who was kidnapped from his home in the Town of Beloit, Wisconsin, has been found alive and safe at an Iowa gas station. Rock County Sheriff’s Deputies are said to have escorted the young baby, Kayden Powell, to an Iowa City hospital and reunited him with his parents – 18-year-old Brianna Marshall and 23-year-old Bruce Powell.
An Iowa police chief located Kayden sheathed in bundles of blankets, in a plastic storage container, sometime after 10 a.m. The baby was alive and safe, despite bitterly cold temperatures. During Friday afternoon – hours after stumbling across the young newborn – prosecutors in Madison charged the baby’s step-aunt, Kristen Smith, with kidnapping.
Brianna Powell is said to have woken at 4:34 a.m., on Thursday morning, to find her young baby missing from her 836 East Homeland Court home. Powell immediately contacted 911 to alert police authorities, who immediately launched an investigation into the infant’s whereabouts.
Around 40 local, federal and state officials were immediately dispatched to scour the crime scene for evidence. No signs of forced entry were found at the Wisconsin home, as teams of experts canvassed the area, searching through dumpsters and interviewing neighboring witnesses.
The police questioned several individuals that were staying at the home, prior to the kidnapping; this included Kayden’s mother and father, Brianna Marshall’s brother and the infant’s great-grandmother. Kayden’s step-aunt, Kristen Smith, had also been visiting the property on Wednesday. However, Smith is believed to have departed the home, at around 1:30 a.m. on Thursday – the last time the parents saw baby Kayden.
The police made contact with Smith, via her cellphone, as she was driving back to her home in Colorado. Smith then pulled off the highway in Iowa and was arrested by police, in West Branch at a Kum & Go gas station; at the time, the police claimed the woman had been arrested on charges of fraud, which stemmed from an outstanding warrant, issued by the state of Texas. At the time, Beloit Police Chief Steve Kopp had claimed that Smith was not a person of interest.
According to leaked court documents, Smith was found with baby garments, a stroller and a prosthetic pregnancy belly. However, no baby was found during the woman’s arrest, and the hunt for Kayden continued. While in custody, Smith is alleged to have said she merely had the baby paraphernalia because Powell and Marshall were planning to move to Denver with Kayden, and stated she was unaware of the location of her step-sister’s baby.
Court documents indicate that the police inspected her cellphone, from which they gained access to various emails; in one piece of correspondence, Smith claims that she had given birth on Feb. 5. Looking at her Facebook page, meanwhile, Smith had also previously claimed she was pregnant. A pregnancy test was performed, confirming that Smith was, in actual fact, not pregnant.
In light of this information, and suspecting Smith’s culpability, police authorities then started looking for baby Kayden along the step-aunt’s interrupted journey, between Wisconsin and Iowa. Ultimately, after the West Branch Police Chief noticed the shrill cries of a baby, he found Kayden near a BP gas station, close to where Smith had been arrested.
Kayden’s step-aunt was then interviewed, on a second occasion, and finally confessed to the kidnapping. Smith, who lives in Denver, had used the pregnancy gear to pretend that she was pregnant. She then traveled to her step-sister’s home in Wisconsin and kidnapped Kayden from his bassinet; all the while, his parents slept, entirely unaware of Smith’s intentions. Upon learning that police authorities were searching for her, Smith then abandoned the young baby at an Iowa gas station.
Federal kidnapping charges have now been filed against Smith, by U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil. If convicted, she could face up to life in prison. Meanwhile, baby Kayden’s family members are happy to have their loved one returned to them, alive and unharmed.
By James Fenner