Cops: Aunt Stole Baby After Faking Pregnancy

Kristen Smith charged in Wisconsin case
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2014 6:45 AM CST

(Newser) – The details about the kidnapping and safe recovery of a Wisconsin infant are firming up, with the baby's 31-year-old aunt in custody. Incredibly, it now appears that 5-day-old Kayden Powell was left outside for more than 24 hours in frigid temperatures, swaddled in blankets inside a plastic storage container. He's fine.

  • The kidnapping: Police say Kristen Smith of Denver, who is the step-sister of the baby's mother, faked her own pregnancy, told people she had given birth, and drove to Beloit, Wis., where newborn Kayden Powell was home from the hospital, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She stayed overnight with the family but left about 2am Thursday with Kayden, say police.
  • The arrest: When mom Brianna Marshall discovered he was gone at 4:30 am, suspicion immediately fell on Smith. Police spoke to her by cell phone about an hour later, and she agreed to pull off I-80 at a gas station in West Branch, Iowa, about 200 miles away. Authorities allege she abandoned the baby at another gas station on the same street before being taken into custody.

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  • Prosthetic belly: Smith denied taking Kayden, and police found baby clothes and a prosthetic belly in her car, reports the Chicago Tribune. At one point, she told police that Kayden and his parents were going to come live with her in Denver. Her Facebook account and cell phone showed she had made fake pregnancy and birth announcements. Police took her into custody, but still didn't know where Kayden was.
  • Amazing discovery: The baby remained missing for another day, until the police chief in West Branch looked inside a plastic bin behind the second gas station about 10:15am yesterday. "You could have knocked me over with a feather," chief Mike Horihan tells the Gazette of Cedar Rapids. Police say Smith admitted to the abduction after Kayden was found and charged her with kidnapping.
  • Chilling detail: The baby's great-uncle, who owns the home where Kayden was staying with his parents, tells AP that he found a paring knife by the empty bassinet the next morning. "I could have woke up to a bloody mess," he says.
(Read more missing baby stories.)

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