Kristen Smith, 31, was charged Friday with kidnapping, just hours after police found Kayden in a tote bag outside of an Iowa gas station. Despite single-digit temperatures, the infant was “in good health,” police said.
The baby's parents, Brianna Marshall and Bruce Powell, first reported him missing early Thursday. Police began investigating Smith — who had been staying at the family’s Beloit home on the Illinois border — the same day.
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Police called Smith and tracked her to a gas station in West Branch, Iowa, about 180 miles southwest of Beloit. She was found with a prosthetic pregnancy belly, baby clothes and a stroller, police said. But Kayden wasn’t with her.
Police ended up arresting Smith on an outstanding warrant for an unrelated fraud charge in Texas.
A search of her cellphone revealed emails in which she said she gave birth on Feb. 5, according to court documents. A search of her Facebook page revealed postings in which she claimed she was pregnant.
Smith didn’t appear pregnant, according to the affidavit. A pregnancy test administered while she was in custody came back negative, U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil said.
Meanwhile, a local police chief in Iowa heard the baby’s cries Friday morning at a gas station about 500 yards from the one where Smith was picked up.