UPDATE: Missing baby found safe; aunt arrested

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Andrea Anderson
Friday, February 7, 2014

UPDATE: Kayden Powell's aunt, Kristen Smith, has been arrested in connection with Kayden's kidnapping, officials say. Click here to read more.

TOWN OF BELOIT — Iowa police Friday morning found missing baby Kayden Powell alive in a tote bag, wrapped in blankets outside of a gas station near Interstate 80 in West Branch, Iowa.

West Branch Police Chief Mike Horihan found the baby at 10:15 a.m., town of Beloit Police Chief Steve Kopp said in an 11 a.m. news conference.

The baby is in good health, despite being outside in the cold weather, Kopp said.

G.B. Jones, the FBI's acting agent in Milwaukee, said the baby is doing "very well" and called the infant "amazingly resilient."

The newborn was outside for an unknown amount of time and is undergoing a medical evaluation at a hospital in Iowa, Jones said.

West Branch police were canvasing the area, like many other police departments assisting in the case, when the baby was found.

Horihan found the infant after hearing the baby's cries, Jones said.

He called Horihan a hero.

The gas station where the baby was found is near the location where the baby's aunt Kristen Smith was taken into custody at about 5:30 a.m. Thursday. She was being held on a Texas warrant accusing her of fraud.

Authorities earlier said Smith had left the town of Beloit home at about 1:30 a.m. Thursday, which was about the same time the baby was last seen. She is a Colorado resident and was visiting Beloit after the baby was born, Kopp said.

The baby was reported missing at 4:34 a.m. Thursday after the mother woke and saw her child was not in its bassinet. The mother, father and baby had been staying at the home of the baby's great-grandmother.

Police on Thursday morning called Smith's cellphone while she was driving on the Interstate and told her to pull over. Law enforcement then took her into custody on the Texas warrant.

Smith is a person of interest in the baby's disappearance and is being questioned while the investigation continues, Jones said.

It is not clear if Smith left Kayden at the gas station before or after she was contacted by police Thursday.

No charges have been issued. The Rock County District Attorney's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Iowa will "sit down and decide what charges are possible," Rock County Sheriff Bob Spoden said.

The mother, Brianna Marshall, 18, and father, Bruce Powell, 23, both of Beloit, are anxious to see their son, and authorities are "focused on re-uniting mother and child," Jones said.

More than 100 members of several agencies across Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa assisted the town of Beloit police and FBI in the case. 

Chief Kopp said a missing child case is one that "no one wants to get," and that no matter the size of the community it has the "same effect on the community."

Check back at this page for updates.

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