Missing baby found in West Branch; Colorado woman charged with kidnapping

Woman termed 'person of interest' arrested in West Branch Thursday

Photo of Kayden at the University of Iowa’s Hospitals and Clinics. (Courtesy: FBI)
Photo of Kayden at the University of Iowa’s Hospitals and Clinics. (Courtesy: FBI)

Authorities found a missing six-day-old baby Friday morning in West Branch.

Kayden Powell was found at 10:15 a.m. Friday in a plastic crate, wrapped in blankets at a BP station, 401 Parkside Dr., West Branch, just off Interstate 80 exit 254. The child is said to be in excellent health.

The baby was examined at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clincs and has been released.

Kayden was reported missing about 4:30 a.m. Thursday from his home in the town of Beloit, Wis. The initial investigation indicated the baby’s mother, Brianna Marshall, woke up and found the baby missing.

The BP station where Kayden was found is on the same street as another gas station where West Branch police arrested Kristen Rose Smith, 31, of Denver on Thursday. She was being held on a warrant out of Texas in regard to tampering with government records and fraud.

On Friday, John Vaudreuil, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, in Madison, charged Smith with kidnapping. If convicted of the federal kidnapping charge, Smith will face a maximum penalty of life in federal prison.

Smith told authorities she had put the baby behind the gas station, according to the complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney. She drew a map, after the baby had been found.

Smith is the half-sister of Marshall, the baby’s mother.

FBI spokeswoman Sandra Breault in Omaha, Neb., would not comment on where the baby was during the 24-plus hours before he was found.

The low temperature in Friday morning in Iowa City was 11 degrees below zero, with a wind chill of 23 degrees below zero, according to the National Weather Service in the Quad Cities. The wind chill was 30 degrees below zero just before 8 a.m. Thursday.

“I think miracle comes into play in this one if it was outside for 29 hours,” said Dr. Joshua Stilley, an emergency medicine physician at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

A baby without clothing would die within minutes in that kind of weather, Stilley said. The blankets must have wrapped Kayden up well enough to contain the heat, and the container and the positioning next to the gas station may have helped block the wind, he said.

Jay Patel was working in the BP station about 10 a.m. Friday when West Branch Police Chief Mike Horihan came in and asked if Patel, the manager, had heard about the missing baby. Patel gave Horihan permission to look around outside the store.

As Horihan walked around the north side of the building, he heard crying and lifted the lid of a plastic box on the ground, Patel said.

Within minutes, Horihan had called the FBI and an ambulance service, which picked up the baby, Patel said.

Patel had been working at the store all morning and hadn’t seen anything suspicious, he told The Gazette.

“I see people come and go, but I didn’t see anything” related to the baby, he said.

Finding the child alive is close to a miracle, Patel said.

“It’s exciting that the baby was still alive in this cold weather,” he said.

Comments: (319) 398-8331; Reporters Erin Jordan and Gregg Hennigan contributed to this story.

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