Sister of baby's mother charged with kidnapping - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Sister of baby's mother charged with kidnapping

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Picture provided by police of Kayden Powell after being found safe in Iowa Picture provided by police of Kayden Powell after being found safe in Iowa
Gas station in West Branch Iowa where Baby Kayden was found-KWWL photo Gas station in West Branch Iowa where Baby Kayden was found-KWWL photo
Investigators search area around gas station. Investigators search area around gas station.
West Branch, Iowa gas station near where Baby Kayden was found West Branch, Iowa gas station near where Baby Kayden was found
Kristen Smith, charged Friday (2/7) with kidnapping of Kayden Powell Kristen Smith, charged Friday (2/7) with kidnapping of Kayden Powell
UPDATE (WXOW) -  The U.S. Attorney's Office files kidnapping charges against the half sister of the mother of Kayden Powell, the six-day-old infant taken from his Town of Beloit home Thursday morning.

Authorities had said earlier that Kristen R. Smith, 31, was a person of interest in the disappearance of Powell.

U.S. Attorney John W. Vaudreuil released a statement announcing the charges against Smith Friday afternoon.  He said that Smith was arrested Thursday in Iowa on unrelated charges.  She's currently in the Cedar County Jail in Tipton, Iowa.

The complaint details how Smith initially denied knowing where the child was. When the FBI and Iowa investigators searched Smith's vehicle, they found baby items, but not the child. 

When investigators looked at her cell phone, it contained emails that Smith sent saying she'd given birth on February 5.  Inside her car, a prosthetic pregnancy belly was discovered. Authorities also found social media messages that she'd made saying she was pregnant.

The complaint said she also failed a lie detector test given by authorities. When asked again about the disappearance, Smith continued to deny involvement and said Kayden's parents gave the child to another family member in Chicago.

Smith's story changed after the baby was found in a plastic tote box about 500 yards from where she was arrested on Thursday. The complaint states Smith admitted taking the baby and later placing him behind the gas station in West Branch, Iowa.

The child, wrapped in blankets, was unharmed.

Smith faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

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UPDATE (WXOW) --- The U.S. Attorney's office tells our sister station 27 News in Madison they plan to file federal charges this afternoon in the missing baby case. They will not confirm who the charges will be against.

This afternoon officials are in West Branch, Iowa at the gas station baby Kayden was found.

We will continue to update you on charges and the investigation as we know more.

Listen above to the audio from scanner traffic as police found baby Kayden.
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MADISON, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Authorities announce that now 6-day-old Kayden Powell, the newborn taken from his Town of Beloit home Thursday morning, was found safe in Iowa.

Town of Beloit Police Chief Steve Kopp said that the child was found by a gas station in West Branch, Iowa, about 10:15 a.m. near Interstate 80.

The child was found wrapped up in blankets and placed inside a tote bag outside the station.  Kopp said the police chief in West Branch, conducting a search of the area prompted on the missing child, heard the baby's cries, then found the child.

"We are very, very fortunate that he was found alive," said Police Chief Steve Kopp during the 11 a.m. news conference. "It's days like today that most of us do what we do."

Officials say despite being found in these cold temperatures, the EMS teams say Kayden looks healthy and in great condition. Police do not know how long Kayden was in that location outside before they found him.

Police were canvassing this area after the sister of Kayden's mother was taken into custody near there Thursday morning. Officials wanted to speak with her as she was at the home with the baby Wednesday night before Kayden was missing.

No charges have been filed, but officials do say Kristen Smith is a person of interest.

The FBI says they are still investigating every lead to find out what happened to baby Kayden.

Officials are now focused on reuniting the parents, Brianna Marshall and Bruce Powell, with their baby.

The baby was found on the search efforts and collaboration of the Town of Beloit Police Department, Beloit Police Department, Rock County Sheriff's Department, Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, FBI, Illinois State Police, Iowa State Patrol, and West Branch Iowa Police Department.

Our sister station in Iowa, KWWL, reports that a manager at the Kum & Go in West Branch said the baby was found near their gas station but not at it. She couldn't comment beyond that.


WXOW and WXOW.com will have more on this breaking story as it becomes available.


KWWL and WKOW contributed to this report.
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