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Court papers: Woman faked pregnancy, stole baby

Police: Woman Accused Of Kidnapping Infant Pretended To Be Pregnant

TOWN OF BELOIT, Wis. (AP) -- An hour after a woman reported her newborn son missing from a Wisconsin home, police were questioning her step-sister - found with a prosthetic pregnancy belly, baby clothes and a stroller, but no baby, according to court documents.

It was more than 24 hours after Kayden Powell went missing before authorities discovered the infant, less than a week old, in a plastic storage crate outside an Iowa gas station, miraculously alive and well despite frigid temperatures.

Kristen Smith of Denver had pretended to be pregnant, went to Wisconsin and stole her step-sister's baby from his bassinet as his parents slept, court documents say. Then, as police closed in on her, she allegedly abandoned the infant, who was swaddled in blankets.

Federal prosecutors in Madison charged Smith with kidnapping Friday afternoon, hours after an Iowa police chief found Kayden.

"He's strong," the newborn's great-uncle, Mark Bennett, said of the boy. "I'm glad that baby is still living instead of in a ditch somewhere on a strange highway."

The discovery of the infant shortly after 10 a.m. Friday capped a frantic search that involved police officers in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa.

It began after the boy's mother, Brianna Marshall, called police around 4:30 a.m. Thursday to report her newborn had vanished from Bennett's home, where she and the baby's father, Bruce Powell, had been staying, according to police and the affidavit.

Marshall said Smith had left the house a couple of hours earlier to return to Colorado. While police were at the house, Smith called on her cellphone. She told police that Marshall and Bruce Powell were planning to move to Denver on Saturday to live with her and she had Kayden's clothes in her car but didn't have the boy.

Police told her to pull over for questioning. An officer met her at a Kum & Go gas station near Interstate 80 in West Branch, Iowa. She was arrested about 5:30 a.m. on an outstanding Texas warrant, but she denied any knowledge of Kayden's whereabouts, the affidavit says.

A search of her cellphone revealed emails in which she said she gave birth on Feb. 5, according to the court document. A search of her Facebook page turned up postings in which she claimed she was pregnant.

Smith didn't appear pregnant, according to the affidavit. A pregnancy test that was administered while she was in custody came back negative, U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil said.

Meanwhile, dozens of officers began searched for the child at possible stop-offs along Smith's route from Wisconsin to Iowa. West Branch Police Chief Mike Horihan decided to check the area around a BP station about 500 yards from the station where Smith was arrested. He heard a baby's cries and discovered Kayden in a closed storage crate alongside the building. The newborn was responsive and healthy, the chief said.

"I had tears in my eyes," BP station manager Jay Patel said, recalling his reaction to the police chief telling him that the infant had been found. "It's good news, but it's sad, too."

Temperatures in West Branch, about 180 miles southwest of the Town of Beloit, dipped below zero Thursday night into Friday. They were still in the single digits when the baby was found.

"Surprisingly with the weather the way it was, he was surprisingly healthy," Horihan, the Iowa police chief, said. "To be honest with you, that's not what I expected."

The baby was taken to an Iowa City hospital, where he was reunited with his parents and released Friday evening.

Online court records didn't list a defense attorney for Smith. She faces life in prison if convicted.

Police interviewed Smith again after Kayden was discovered, the affidavit said, and she admitted she had taken the baby and left him at the BP station.

Bennett, the baby's great-uncle, told The Associated Press he first met Smith on Thursday night, when he came home and found her, his mother and the baby's mother and father in his house. He said his mother later explained to him that Marshall and her step-sister had the same father but different mothers.

He went to his room in the basement. When he woke up, the baby and Smith were gone.

He said he kept telling Marshall that Smith had to have taken the child, but Marshall refused to believe it. The baby's bassinet was 2 feet from the parents' bed and he found a paring knife on the ground next to it.

"I could have woke up to a bloody mess," Bennett said.

He said he hopes Smith gets locked up for life.

"You stole him like you're stealing something from the grocery store," the great-uncle said. "Nobody in their right mind should have thought of that."

Smith appears to go by multiple names and has had run-ins with the law in multiple states, authorities said. The Texas warrant stems from a felony indictment charging her with tampering with government documents late last year while she was in jail in Colorado.

A spokesman for the Arapahoe County, Colo., sheriff's office declined to discuss the details of her arrest there. A spokeswoman for the district attorney's office in Tarrant County, Texas, said it's not clear why Colorado authorities released Smith instead of sending her back to Texas.

Join the discussion

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mommyb97 February 09 2014 at 12:41 AM

If they share a parent, they are half siblings, NOT step siblings.

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1 reply
rustyruth1217 mommyb97 February 09 2014 at 3:09 AM

when siblings have same mothers but different fathers they are half siblings.
when siblings share same father but different moms. they are step siblings.

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2 replies
peacebstill7 rustyruth1217 February 09 2014 at 8:04 AM

@ Rustyruth 1217 Actually, half siblings have one parent in common. Half-siblings only share one parent instead of two as full siblings do. i.e. A step parent is a parent not related by blood nor do they contribute to the child's genetic makeup. In other words they are not related as a maternal or paternal parent.

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xdrumline1 rustyruth1217 February 10 2014 at 4:30 AM

Hmm...really? Where in the world did you get that???

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daisy1cow February 08 2014 at 12:58 PM

And it has been below zero here in Iowa. He was in that bag for 30 hours? No one heard him?? Poor little dude. Im glad he is home and I hope she ALSO gets charged with attempted murder. He's lucky he survived

Flag Reply +10 rate up
enlil968 February 08 2014 at 1:00 PM

She's a sick psycho.....sorry.

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1 reply
sweet cherri enlil968 February 08 2014 at 4:24 PM


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Miss Mellie February 08 2014 at 3:43 PM

This is confusinng. But it sounds like the mother and the perpetrator were HALF-sisters, not step-sisters.

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1 reply
bwilv Miss Mellie February 08 2014 at 3:54 PM

yep, half not step.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
bwilv February 08 2014 at 3:54 PM

Last time i checked, same father two different mothers is a "half sister" not a step. hum.

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1 reply
doughertyhan bwilv February 08 2014 at 5:45 PM

Maybe that is not her biological father? My friend was legally adopted by her step father and my mom by hers.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Micheles Third February 08 2014 at 5:51 PM

Thank God she did not harm the newborn. The look in the baby's eyes are as if there is already a story to tell. It's a good thing she wrapped baby in enough blankets, but after all this, she should be in a mental hospital. She should also be grateful her half niece/nephew did not release a *&^%load of baby vemon. There is a lot of character in that baby's eyes and it is screaming for revenge.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
dws51564 February 08 2014 at 6:26 PM

Well, another nut job off the streets.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
Janice February 08 2014 at 6:44 PM

Their not all locked up, thank the Lord they found the baby ok. She should never see the light of day.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Dominic February 08 2014 at 8:01 PM

Hopefully she will be locked up past her child bearing age. Not good mother material.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
sequestereddems February 08 2014 at 9:02 PM

That's up by Rockford.People are crazy there.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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