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U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin John Vaudreuil said 31-year-old Kristen R. Smith, of Denver, was charged Friday afternoon with kidnapping newborn Kayden Powell from a home in the town of Beloit. Smith is Kayden's aunt, the half-sister of Kayden's mother, Brianna Marshall.
Eighteen-year-old Marshall, of Beloit, reported the newborn missing at 4:30 a.m. Thursday. The West Branch, Iowa, chief of police found the baby at about 10:15 a.m. Friday outside a gas station, 29 hours after he'd gone missing and 180 miles away.
The complaint alleged that Smith took Kayden from the Beloit home and transported him across state lines to Iowa.
According to the criminal complaint filed Friday, police spoke with Smith over the phone minutes after the baby was reported stolen. Smith was at an Iowa gas station, where a local police met with her. Smith was arrested Thursday in Iowa on an unrelated warrant out of Texas. Smith is being held at the Cedar County Jail in Tipton, Iowa.
The complaint said Smith told officers that Marshall and Kayden's father, 23-year-old Bruce Powell, were planning to move to Colorado to live with Smith. Smith denied knowledge of Kayden's whereabouts, the complaint alleged. She later said Kayden's parents gave him away to a family member in Chicago and denied involvement in the baby's disappearance.
Police found baby clothes, a car seat and stroller in Smith's car Friday morning, but no children. Emails and Facebook posts were also found that said Smith gave birth Wednesday, the complaint alleged. A prosthetic pregnancy belly was also in Smith's car.
The complaint said Smith did not appear pregnant and a pregnancy test was negative.
The BP gas station on Highway 80 in West Branch where Kayden was found is about 500 yards from the gas station where Smith initially made contact with police.
The complaint said after Kayden was found, Smith admitted to taking the newborn from her sister's home in Beloit and told investigators she had placed him behind the gas station in Iowa. She gave police a hand-drawn map of where the baby was found, the complaint said.
Ultimately she did admit what she had done," Vaudreuil said.
"Initially she denied it but ultimately when confronted with the pretty clear evidence, as we laid out in our complaint, she admitted it.
Vaudreuil's office said Smith faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison if convicted. Bail for Smith would be set at $15,000, Vaudreuil said. Authorities are expected to extradite Smith to Madison in about a week.
Vaudreuil said he believed Kayden was left outdoors in a plastic tote overnight. Meterologist Joe Winters with KCRG-TV9 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, said temperatures reached an overnight low of minus 11 degrees at 6 a.m. Friday with a windchill of 23 below zero.Friday, February 7 2014, 09:49 PM CST
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