Infant found alive: Missing Wisconsin baby Kayden Powell; Kristin Smith, aunt, charged with kidnapping from Beloit bassinette
February 7, 2014 (BELOIT, Wis.) (WLS) -- Federal kidnapping charges have been filed against Kristin Smith, the aunt of a missing Wisconsin baby who was found in Iowa. The 5-day-old infant was snatched from his bassinette in his Beloit home.
Authorities said the 6-pound, 20-inch newborn was found Friday at 10:15 a.m. near a gas station a half-mile from where his aunt was taken into custody in West Branch, near Cedar Rapids, Iowa, after leaving the Beloit home in the middle of the night early Thursday.
FBI acting special agent G.B. Jones said at a news conference the West Branch police chief heard the newborn crying and discovered the child swaddled in blankets in a tote bag outside a gas station. Authorities say the child appears to be in good condition. Authorities said the outcome of the case was extremely positive despite the bitter cold.
The baby's 18-year-old mother called 911 after waking about 4:30 a.m. Thursday to find that her son, Kayden Powell, was missing from his bassinette in a room where she was sleeping at a home in the Town of Beloit, authorities said. West Branch, Iowa, is about 180 miles southwest of Beloit.
Jones said the child's discovery was not part of a "directed" search, meaning they weren't told where to look.
The baby's aunt was visiting the home Wednesday evening but said she left early Thursday for Colorado where she lives. Police were able to reach the woman on her cellphone, and she pulled off the highway in Iowa. Authorities took Kristin Smith into custody on an unrelated outstanding warrant from Texas at a convenience store along I-80. Police say they found baby clothes in the aunt's car but not the baby. FBI agents then went to Iowa to question Smith.
Police said Thursday night that about 40 officers from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies were working on the case. Police would not speculate where the aunt was headed before the infant was found.
The baby's mother, Brianna Marshall, and the infant's 23-year-old father, Bruce Powell, were staying at the house, Town of Beloit Police Chief Steven Kopp said. Investigators were questioning people who were at the house Wednesday night, Kopp told The Janesville Gazette.
"We're celebrating (the chief) as a hero today," Jones said.
Prosecutors are conferring on what charges to file, if any.
"This investigation," Jones said, "is far from over."
West Branch Police Chief Mike Horihan spoke to reporters at the BP gas station where the baby was found; yellow police tape kept people away from an area on the side of the business.
"It's unique, let's just say that," Horihan said. "I have been in law enforcement for a while and nothing ever surprises me. But it's very unique and very special and I'm just glad everything seems to be fine.
"The baby seems to be doing just fine," he said.
Police said the infant's mother and father were cooperative and that they knew of the discovery but as of 11 a.m. Friday had yet to be reunited with their baby.
The incident is not believed to be a custody dispute, Kopp said. An Amber Alert was not issued because the disappearance didn't meet the criteria, he said. The Town of Beloit, home to about 7,500 people, is about 50 miles south of Madison near the Illinois border.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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