911 call: Brianna Marshall didn't believe sister kidnapped her baby

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Frank Schultz
Monday, February 10, 2014

TOWN OF BELOIT—A recording of the 911 call the night infant Kayden Powell went missing tells of a distraught mother who did not believe her sister could have taken her child.

“I called her, and she's bawling her eyes out and told me to call the cops,” Brianna Marshall told the 911 dispatcher during the conversation, which started when Brianna called at 4:34 a.m. Thursday.

“OK. But she's claiming she doesn't have the kid, correct?” the dispatcher said.

“No. She wouldn't take my son,” Marshall said.

Marshall, 18, apparently was referring to Kristen R. Smith, 31, Denver, who faces a federal charge of kidnapping.

Brianna pronounced Kristen's name like “Christine.”

Marshall was clearly crying and stressed during the recording, making her responses difficult to understand. At one point, she tells the dispatcher there was a knife next to her bed.

The dispatcher asked if the knife had blood on it.

“No,” Marshall replied. “I picked it up and (saw it) was a knife, and I threw it back down and looked over, and my baby was gone.”

Marshall later became frustrated with the dispatcher's questions and gave the phone to an older woman, who she referred to as her grandmother. The second woman relays Brianna's answers.

“Her sister was here earlier. Her sister is gone and the baby is gone,” the woman tells the dispatcher.

“Does she have the baby?” the dispatcher asked.

“She claims she don't, but,” the woman replied in a tone that suggested she believed the sister did have the baby.

“The baby's gone, and she's gone,” the woman said a moment later.

Marshall got back on the phone, and that's when she said she doesn't believe her sister took the baby.

“Is she going to be turning around and coming back to the house?” the dispatcher asked.

“Most likely,” Marshall responded.

Smith was being held Monday in a jail in Tipton, Iowa, where the sheriff told the Associated Press she was being held away from the rest of the inmates for safety reasons. 

Cedar County Sheriff Warren Wethington said he didn't feel comfortable holding Smith with other female inmates who had seen media coverage of the allegations against her.

Smith was charged with kidnapping Friday after the police chief in West Branch, Iowa, discovered the infant alive and well despite being in freezing temperatures for up to 29 hours.

The FBI alleges Smith took the baby from her half-sister's home and left him swaddled in a plastic crate outside a gas station before she was arrested Thursday.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Madison said Smith's case could be presented to grand jury as early as Wednesday, Feb. 19.

The grand jury would vote on whether to issue an indictment.

Smith faces a detention hearing before a judge Friday in Cedar County, Iowa, regarding an unrelated charge in Texas, said U.S. Attorney spokeswoman Myra Longfield.

The charge is likely fraud. Smith was held Friday on a warrant charging fraud, before she was charged in the kidnapping.

If Smith is released on the Texas charge, she will be taken into federal custody and make her initial appearance in federal court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Longfield said. Then, Smith would be transferred to Wisconsin's Western District for the grand jury and federal court proceedings.

Wisconsin FBI spokesman Leonard Peace said the case remains under investigation, so he cannot comment on a possible motive.

The criminal complaint filed Friday alleges Smith's cellphone contained emails in which she stated that she had given birth Feb. 5.

A prosthetic pregnancy belly was found inside Smith's vehicle, according to the court documents. She had also posted on her Facebook page that she was pregnant.

The document says she did not appear pregnant while in Wisconsin nor when she was apprehended. Authorities tested her for pregnancy, and results were negative.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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