(Reuters) - A Colorado woman who police believe faked a pregnancy was charged on Friday with the kidnapping in Wisconsin of her 6-day-old nephew, who was found a day later behind a gas station in Iowa, federal prosecutors said.
Kristen Smith, 31, of Denver, was charged in a Wisconsin federal court after the infant, Kayden Powell, was found wrapped in blankets in a tote bag 200 miles away from his home, authorities said.
According to the criminal complaint, authorities believe Smith faked being pregnant after they found a prosthetic pregnancy belly in her car and Facebook postings in which she claimed to be with child.
The infant boy’s mother reported him missing from his bassinet early Thursday morning, sparking a massive search that rallied federal, state and local officials.
A day later, the police chief of West Branch, Iowa, found the baby in a tote bag at the gas station, said Steven Kopp, police chief for the town of Beloit, Wisconsin.
“Despite frigid temperatures, Kayden was found alive and appears to be doing very well,” Kopp told a news conference. “In the words of EMS officials, he is in excellent health.”
West Branch is in eastern Iowa about 185 miles from Beloit in southern Wisconsin, near the Illinois border.
Kayden’s mother, Brianna Marshall, 18, and father, Bruce Powell, 23, were given the good news about their son and efforts now center on reuniting the family, Kopp said.
FBI agent G.B. Jones said authorities had determined that someone left the family’s residence, then began to reconstruct the path taken south into Illinois and west into Iowa and asked law enforcement officers to be on the lookout along that route.
“The police chief from West Branch, Iowa, was checking areas right along the interstate corridor. He heard the baby’s cries and recovered the baby,” said Jones, who called the action part of the general canvass and not a directed search.
Jones said authorities did not know how long the baby had been outside and said the investigation would continue until all questions were answered.
“We are all very, very fortunate this baby is alive,” Jones said.
Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City, Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by David Bailey; Editing by Gunna Dickson