Kidnapping suspect faces Iowa child endangerment charge

Extradition hearing on Texas warrant scheduled for Friday

Published: February 13 2014 | 11:47 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 3:36 am in

The woman accused of kidnapping her newborn nephew from his Beloit home and leaving him outdoors in below-freezing temperatures near West Branch now faces a child endangerment charge.

On Thursday, Cedar County Attorney Jeffrey L. Renander filed a single child endangerment charge against 31-year-old Kristen Smith. The complaint states Kayden Powell - identified in the court document as K.P. - was reported missing on Feb. 6, when he was just four days old.

Police said Smith, Kayden's aunt, had been in his home when he was last seen and authorities contacted her and ordered her to pull over at the nearest gas station so they could talk with her. The complaint states Smith pulled into the Kum & Go, 620 S Downey St., and flagged down West Branch police officer Alex Koch. Koch saw baby clothing, a car seat and stroller in Smith's car, according to the complaint. She was arrested on a arrest warrant for records tampering and fraud out of Texas and taken to the Cedar County Jail.

On Feb. 7, West Branch Police Chief Mike Horihan found Kayden inside a plastic bin outside the BP station at Parkside Drive. The BP station is on the north side of Interstate 80; the Kum & Go is on the south side of the interstate. The temperatures outside were below freezing at the time Kayden was located, though no one seems clear on how long the child was outside and subjected to the elements.

The criminal complaint states Smith admitted to taking Kayden and hiding him behind the BP gas station. She also drew a map indicating where the child could be found, which she provided to police.

Child endangerment is an aggravated misdemeanor, punishable by up to two years in prison. However, Smith also faces federal kidnapping charges, which carry a potential life sentence. Smith has not yet been taken into custody on the federal charge.

An extradition hearing for her charges out of Texas is scheduled for Friday morning. She remains in custody at the Cedar County Jail. Her bond was set at $20,000 for the child endangerment charge.

Myra Longfield, a spokesperson for the U.S Attorney's Office for Wisconsin's Western District, said Smith will only be taken into federal custody if the charges from Texas are dropped and she is released from custody.

"She would immediately be taken into federal custody," Longfield said.

Longfield said she would not comment on any conversations that the U.S. Attorney's Office might have had with Texas authorities regarding their charges against Smith.

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