A Colorado woman accused of kidnapping her half-sister’s newborn in Wisconsin and leaving the child behind an Iowa gas station in sub-zero temperatures was indicted on federal charges Wednesday.
US Attorney John Vaudreuil announced that a Grand Jury in Wisconsin returned the indictment charging Kristen Smith with kidnapping, which carries a life in prison maximum sentence.
The FBI filed a criminal complaint following the February 6 kidnapping of the newborn from his home in Beloit, Wisconsin, near the Illinois border.
Five-day old Kayden Powell was taken from his bassinet — which was next to his parents bed — by Smith, 31, from Aurora, Colorado in the early morning hours.
Smith — who will be transferred to Wisconsin prior to a hearing on Friday — has been jailed in Iowa since her arrest, which came a few hours after the kidnapping of the newborn.
The case attracted national attention due to the age of the infant and the frigid conditions in which he was found. Many called it a miracle that baby Kayden survived at all.
Investigators say Smith kidnapped 18-year-old Brianna Marshall’s baby from a home she was staying at after giving birth to the child on February 1. Marshall woke up in the middle of the night to find, both her son and Smith missing and called 911.
The frantic search took several local and state agencies through at least three states and ended in West Branch, Iowa, where the local Sheriff happened to be at the gas station, located on the route authorities thought Smith had taken to escape with the kidnapped newborn.
Police called Smith on her cell phone as she drove through Iowa and directed her to pull over at the gas station in Iowa for questioning.
When authorities arrived at the gas station they found baby clothes, a stroller, and a car seat, but no signs of Kayden. Smith denied any knowledge of the kidnapping of the newborn, but was taken into custody on an outstanding warrant from Texas.
Meanwhile, the desperate search for five-day old Kayden took police from Wisconsin, to Illinois and Iowa.
Authorities finally found the kidnapped newborn 29-hours later, when West Branch Sheriff spotted the storage bin in which the baby was wrapped with blankets.
Despite sub-zero weather at the time, baby Kayden was found alive and healthy and medical professionals that attended to him at the hospital were surprised he was able to survive the frigid temperatures.
The FBI complaint says that they found evidence on Smith’s Facebook page that she had faked a pregnancy and even had a prosthetic belly in her car. She kidnapped the newborn to make him pass as her own child and planned to take him to Colorado.