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BREAKING: Baby survives sub-zero temperatures overnight; woman confesses to kidnapping
News · February 08, 2014


A six-day-old newborn apparently survived nearly 30 hours in freezing and sub-zero temperatures before police found him Friday and authorities say a Colorado woman confessed to kidnapping the baby. Kristen R. Smith, 22, of Denver, Colo., now faces federal kidnapping charges that include taking the baby across state lines.


The baby, Kayden Powell, born Feb. 1, was reported missing about 4:30 a.m. Feb. 6 by his mother, Brianna Marshall, 18, of Beloit, Wis.

Police in Beloit began calling any of the eight people who the family knew had been to the house within the previous 12 hours, including Smith.

Smith apparently had been driving on Interstate 80 when, at 4:54 a.m., she called the house on her cell phone. The phone was handed to a Beloit Police officer, referred to in an FBI complaint as “Dykstra,” who asked her to stop at the next town and find a local police officer to search her car to verify her statement that she did not have Kayden.

Smith stopped in West Branch and, according to police, wrapped Kayden in a baby sleeper and blankets, then placed him inside a grey tote box behind a Dumpster at the BP-Amoco station on the northeast corner of Parkside and Interstate 80.

However, she apparently then drove 500 yards away to Kum & Go, on the southwest corner of Parkside and I-80, and, at about 5:21 a.m., waved down West Branch Police Officer Alex Koch, who was performing his normal patrols and pulling into the gas station’s parking lot.

Smith handed her cell phone to Koch, who, at Dykstra’s request, searched Smith’s car. Koch did not find Kayden, but he did find a prosthetic pregnancy belly.

As per routine, Koch also ran a check on Smith and discovered she was wanted on an unrelated warrant out of Texas for fraudulent use of documents, WBPD Chief Mike Horihan said.

Koch arrested Smith and took her to Cedar County Jail, however Smith denied any knowledge of Kayden’s whereabouts to the FBI and Iowa investigators.

An all-out search began, including both Wisconsin and Iowa law enforcement. Smith, at first a person of interest, suddenly became a suspect and law enforcement searched along I-80 and around West Branch to see if they could find the infant in places Smith was believed or known to have been.

It was Horihan who found Kayden while searching the grounds of the BP-Amoco. At about 10:06 a.m. Friday, after nearly 30 hours in sub-freezing temperatures and several hours of sub-zero temperatures, Horihan opened a grey plastic tote box, heard crying and found Kayden inside.

Horihan said he immediately called for emergency responders, and West Branch Fire Department soon arrived on the scene.

“The baby seemed healthy, conscious and alert,” Horihan said, “amazingly -- considering the weather.”

Temperatures overnight dropped to negative-11 degrees, Thursday’s high was about 11 or 12 degrees, and Friday’s high was about 14 degrees.

West Branch Fire Chief Kevin Stoolman was one of the first to respond to Horihan’s call.

“I can’t say a lot,” Stoolman said of the baby’s health, “But he seemed in good condition ... It’s amazing everything turned out the way that it did.”

Later that day, FBI Special Agent Bryan Baker filed kidnapping charges against Smith.

In the complaint, he states that Smith took the baby possibly about 2 a.m. Thursday morning from a bassinet in the same room where the mother and her boyfriend, Bruce Powell, slept. The house where they lived, in the 800 block of Homeland Court in Beloit, Wis., belonged to Brianna Marshall’s grandmother, and Kayden’s uncle was also home at the time.

Smith is apparently Marshall’s half sister; they share a father.

In that phone call from Smith to Beloit, Smith stated that Brianna Marshall, 18, Bruce Powell, 23, and baby Kayden “were planning to move to Denver on Saturday to live with Smith.”

“Smith stated that she had the infant’s clothing with her in the car but did not have the infant,” read the complaint.

The complaint states that Koch got consent from Smith to search the car and also found baby clothing, a car seat and a stroller.

“Smith denied any knowledge of the child’s whereabouts,” read the complaint. “Smith consented to a search of her cell phone, her Facebook account, and her car.

“Smith’s cell phone contained e-mails sent by Smith wherein she stated she herself gave birth on Feb. 5, 2014,” read the complaint. “Smith did not appear pregnant, had not appeared pregnant while in Wisconsin, and was pregnancy tested and was not pregnant.”

The FBI state that Smith’s Facebook account contained postings by Smith where she claimed she was pregnant.

“Smith was given a polygraph regarding the location of the missing infant and failed the polygraph exam,” read the complaint.

Under further questioning, Baker writes, “Smith claimed the child’s parents had given KP to a family member in Chicago and denied involvement in the disappearance.”

After Horihan found Kayden, the baby was identified by his parents as theirs.

“Following the recovery of (Kayden), Smith was interviewed again at the Cedar County Jail,” read the complaint. “Smith admitted that she took KP from her sister’s home in Wisconsin, and later put him behind the BP gas station in West Branch, Iowa. Smith provided law enforcement with a hand-drawn map of where the baby was found.”

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