Woman indicted in town of Beloit baby kidnapping
MADISON—The woman accused of kidnapping a newborn from a town of Beloit home faces possible life imprisonment.
A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted Kristen Smith, 31, of Aurora, Colo., on a charge of kidnapping in a case that includes strange behavior by Smith and the seemingly miraculous survival of the baby.
Kidnapping carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Smith, also known as Kristen Pearson, was in an Iowa jail Wednesday. U.S. marshals are expected to transfer her to Wisconsin in time for her arraignment Friday in federal court in Madison.
Smith will be housed in an unspecified county jail pending trial, U.S. Marshal Dallas Neville said.
Kayden Powell's mother, 18-year-old Brianna Marshall, gave birth Feb. 1. She woke up in the middle of the night to find Kayden missing and called 911, tearfully telling the dispatcher her son was gone.
Smith is accused of taking her half-sister's baby in the middle of the night and driving west. She was arrested in Iowa after leaving the baby swaddled in a plastic storage box behind an Iowa gas station.
Police contacted Smith on her cellphone as she was driving through Iowa and told her to pull over. An officer in West Branch, Iowa, found baby clothes, a stroller and a car seat in Smith's vehicle but no sign of the baby.
Smith denied any knowledge of Kayden's whereabouts. She was taken into custody on a warrant from Texas.
Police searched through Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin for the newborn. The police chief in West Branch, Iowa, found him 29 hours later behind a gas station about 500 yards from where Smith was arrested. He was wrapped in blankets inside a plastic storage bin. Despite temperatures that went well below zero, Kayden was alive and healthy.
The FBI complaint says investigators found email and Facebook messages in which Smith falsely claimed to have been pregnant or given birth. They also found a prosthetic pregnancy belly in her car.
Authorities have not said what they think Smith's motive was, however.
Records show Smith faces unrelated fraud and theft charges in Wisconsin, Indiana and Texas.
In a statement authorized by Smith last week, defense attorney Victoria Noel said Smith was concerned for her half-sister's well being after the family's hardship but did not take responsibility for causing it.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.