The Wisconsin baby that was reported missing on Thursday was found and reunited with his parents, but his aunt faces charges on kidnapping. Police located the baby on Friday outside, near a gas station. Despite in freezing temperatures that morning, he is in good condition and was released from the hospital.
Brianna Marshall called 911 when she first noticed her 6-day-old baby, Kayden Powell, missing from the bassinet in her Wisconsin home early Thursday morning. Though the circumstances did not qualify for an Amber Alert, officers on the local, sate and federal level were involved with the search that spanned three states, including Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois. Police questioned several family members, including Marshall’s step-sister, Kristin Smith. She had visited the family’s home earlier that day, but left around 2 am. They were able to reach her by phone and later found that she had baby items and a prosthetic pregnancy belly in her possession. This was the first clue leading to the aunt’s arrest and kidnapping charge.
The baby was found Friday morning near an Iowa gas station. He was swaddled in blankets and inside of a plastic bin. Police believe she dropped the infant off when she thought she was close to being caught. G.B Jones said the West branch police chief heard the infant’s cries and stumbled upon him quite accidentally. He was one of 40 officers on the case. The baby would not have survived much longer in the freezing cold, especially since the bin he was in was covered in frost. “We’re celebrating (the chief) as a hero today,” Jones said.
Smith, a 31-year-old Denver resident, was pulled over in West Branch, Iowa. She was arrested on an outstanding fraud warrant that had been issued in Texas. She initially denied any involvement with the disappearance of her nephew. She told police that Marshall and the baby’s dad, Bruce Powell, were planning to move to Colorado and stay with her, which is why she had some of his things. The baby’s grandmother, Tracy Bennett, confirmed this.
Once the baby was found, however, Smith admitted to the kidnapping. She told them exactly where the missing baby was, with exact details that lined up with where he was found. The authorities got her permission to search her cellphone and found emails that Smith had sent, claiming that she gave birth on Feb. 5. They also noted details on her Facebook page of a non-existent pregnancy. She took a pregnancy test in jail, which confirmed that she was not pregnant.
Though the situation prompted a mass search for the missing infant, it ended with a family reunited. Smith’s motivations are still unclear at this time though. Officers are not sure why faked a pregnancy, stole the Wisconsin baby or tried to cover up her involvement when he went missing. Had she not been caught when she was, there is no telling how far she would have gotten with him. The aunt has been charged with kidnapping by U.S. attorney John Vaudreuil. She now faces life in prison, if found guilty and convicted.
By Tracy Rose
The Washington Post