Wisconsin infant, Kayden Powell, who had been reported missing early Thursday morning, has been found safe and his own aunt has been arrested for the kidnapping and subsequent abandonment of the baby. Just six days old when taken, Powell was discovered one day later after having been abandoned behind an Iowa gas station.
When found outside in extremely cold temperatures, 200 miles from his Wisconsin home, the baby was wrapped in blankets and had been placed in a tote bag. There is no indication of how long Powell had been outside before being found. Some reports indicate that he may also have been inside of a gray storage container.
The aunt of Kayden Powell, Kristin Smith, was arrested Thursday and charged Friday in Wisconsin federal court in connection with kidnapping and abandonment of the infant. Because officials discovered a prosthetic pregnancy belly in her car and found postings on Facebook claiming that she was pregnant, it is believed that Smith, 31, who lives in Denver, Colorado, faked a pregnancy to explain the sudden appearance of an infant.
Powell’s mother, Brianna Marshall, 18, discovered that her baby was not in his bassinet after she awoke at 4:30 a.m. on Thursday morning. His father, Bruce Powell, 23, had also been staying at the house with Marshall. After she notified police, an intensive search immediately began among officials that included approximately 40 local, state and federal officials.
According to the federal complaint against Smith, she had been visiting Marshall’s home but left Thursday morning to return to her home in Denver. Authorities were able to determine with route Smith was taking to Denver and began their search by following her route through Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois. Notifications were sent to police departments along those routes to be on the lookout for Smith.
Police contacted Smith on her cell phone and asked her to pull over so that she could be questioned about the missing baby. Smith pulled over at a gas station in West Branch, Iowa, where police discovered that she had an outstanding warrant from Texas. She was taken into custody on the warrant, which allowed police to search her car, where they discovered a car seat, a stroller and baby clothing, but no baby.
Police also searched her cell phone, on which they found Facebook posts and emails by Smith that claimed that she had given birth on Wednesday. According to the complaint, Smith did not look pregnant. A pregnancy test was administered that came back negative.
Steven Kopp, police chief of Beloit, Iowa, reported that the West Branch, Iowa, police chief found the baby after hearing him crying on Friday morning. Powell was discovered approximately one-half mile away from the gas station at which Smith had been arrested.
Powell is reported to be in excellent condition and was discharged from the hospital on Friday evening. Mother and baby have been reunited and are heading home. If Kayden Powell’s aunt, Kristen Smith, who is currently under arrest, is convicted, she faces a sentence of life in prison for the kidnapping and abandonment of the Wisconsin infant, who was found safe.
By Jennifer Pfalz