A Denver woman was arrested in Iowa on Friday after she allegedly kidnapped her 6-day-old nephew from his home in Beloit, Wis.
Kristen Smith, 31, was charged with kidnapping after federal prosecutors say she faked her pregnancy using a prosthetic belly and then stole the infant from her step-sister.
Smith told others she had given birth on Wednesday, according to the criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court. That night she stayed with her step-sister Brianna Marshall, 18, who had just given birth to newborn Kayden Powell.
Marshall called police around 4:30 a.m. Thursday when she woke up and found her baby was missing and Smith was gone. She told officers that Smith planned to leave around 2 a.m. that morning to drive back to Denver.
Smith called her grandmother’s home around 5 p.m. and an officer spoke with her.
She told police she had the baby and planned to raise him in Denver. The officer convinced her to pull over at a gas station on I-80 in West Branch, Iowa, 200 miles from Beloit, and she complied.
A waiting police officer found no baby in the car, although there was baby clothing, a car seat, a stroller and a prosthetic belly.
Taken into police custody, she denied taking the infant.
It wasn’t until 10:15 a.m. on Friday that authorities discovered the baby, swaddled in blankets, inside a plastic bin left behind another gas station just 500 yards from where Smith was picked up. Despite frigid temperatures, Kayden is in perfect health.
The infant’s great uncle, Mark Bennett, who owns the Beloit home where Kayden and his parents were staying, told the Associated Press he made a shocking discovery the morning Smith took the child. There was a pairing knife beside the empty bassinet.
“I could have woke up to a bloody mess,” Bennett said.