Iowa police chief 'amazed' to find baby
WEST BRANCH, IOWA —West Branch Police Chief Mike Horihan started his search for Kayden Powell on the north side of Exit 254 Friday morning.
He wasn't especially optimistic.
"When I started out looking it was pretty much routine," Horihan said. "I didn't have a lot of hope. People might have thought it was a shot in the dark."
Horihan said that he was advised to search the area by local FBI agents while they canvassed the south side of the exit off Interstate 80.
More than 100 members of several agencies across Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa assisted the town of Beloit police and FBI in the case of the missing infant. They had been searching since early Thursday morning when the baby first went missing.
Horihan said that he walked around the BP station near the exit searching for the child. He looked for tracks in the snow, around the dumpsters, anything that might show signs of activity.
That's when he saw a plastic tote next to the recycling bins in the back of the service station.
"At first I thought it may have been part of their recycling bins," Horihan said. "I went up to the tote and popped the lid off and peaked in and saw blankets and stuff."
He said that he then went inside the store and asked the owner to come outside with him.
"He (the owner) said that he had never seen it in his life and I started having negative thoughts," Horihan said. "I immediately thought the worst."
Horihan said that it was obvious to him that the tote had been outside all night long.
The low temperature 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.
"As I started opening it more I heard a baby cry," Horihan said. "That wasn't really what I expected."
He said that the tote's lid was snapped shut when he found it and the infant was in a one piece outfit that covered his feet and hands. It also was tightly swaddled in a blanket and laying on a base of blankets. One blanket was placed loosely on top of the baby, he said.
The gas station where the baby was found is near where Smith was taken into custody. Horihan found the baby around 10:15 a.m.
"I don't know how certain anyone was that we would find anything," Horihan said. "You don't know while you're looking if she got rid of the baby, if she ever had the baby. If she did have it, she had plenty of an opportunity to get rid of it before she got to Iowa."
Horihan said that he was happy to have found the child, especially in good health. He said that in his almost 35 years of service he has never seen anything like this.
"It was a shock," Horihan said. "This certainly was a very unique surprise. Very often we don't have things that end this well. I was amazed the baby was as healthy and in as good of shape as it was."