Iowa kidnapping suspect Kristen Smith was charged
with child endangerment on Thursday on top of an existing kidnapping charge issued by federal prosecutors in Wisconsin.
The 31-year-old from Denver, Colo., is accused of kidnapping her half-sister’s newborn baby and then abandoning the child behind a gas station in near freezing temperatures.
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According to authorities, Smith was visiting her half-sister Brianna Marshall in the Wisconsin town of Beloit when in the early morning hours of Feb. 6 Marshall awoke to find her sister gone and her baby missing from his bassinet. Marshall immediately called 911, The Associated Press reported
Local police pulled Smith over while she was driving through Iowa on Interstate 80.
Upon searching the vehicle, authorities found baby clothing, a car seat, and a stroller in her car but no sign of the child. When asked where the child was, Smith reportedly told police that she had no knowledge of the baby’s whereabouts.
Smith was subsequently taken into custody after authorities discovered that she had an outstanding warrant for tampering with government records from Texas, according to the AP.
Nearly 30 hours after Smith’s arrest, the baby was found by West Branch Police Chief Mike Horihan, who discovered the child behind a BP gas station in close proximity to where the suspect had been pulled over by police. The baby was reportedly wrapped in blankets inside of a plastic storage crate. Despite the near freezing temperatures, the child was alive and well.
"The outside temperatures were below freezing at the time K.P. was located," Horihan’s complaint said. "After K.P. was found, the defendant admitted she had taken K.P. and had placed him behind the BP gas station and also provided law enforcement with a map of where the baby was found."
According to investigators, prior to the alleged kidnapping Smith had falsely claimed to be pregnant in emails and on social media sites. In addition to the baby accessories found in her car, authorities also recovered a prosthetic pregnancy belly they believe belonged to Smith.
Smith's court-appointed defense attorney, Victoria Noel, declined to comment on Thursday.
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