TOWN OF BELOIT, Wis. – A newborn missing from a Wisconsin home was found alive in a plastic storage bin Friday outside a gas station in Iowa where the temperature was in the single digits, law enforcement officers and a gas station manager said.
Kayden Powell, who’s nearly a week old, was discovered about 10:15 a.m. by the police chief in West Branch, Iowa, said Town of Beloit Police Chief Steven Kopp at a news conference less than an hour after the infant was found.
Gas station manager Jay Patel told the Associated Press the baby was found in a closed, gray plastic storage bin, and that the FBI took it and surveillance video from the station.
“I had tears in my eyes,” Patel said, recalling his reaction to the police chief telling him that the infant had been found. “It’s good news but it’s sad, too.”
No arrests have been made, but police have identified a woman as a person of interest.
The police chief heard the newborn crying and found the child swaddled in blankets inside the plastic container, Milwaukee FBI Acting Special Agent-in-Charge G.B. Jones said at the news conference.
“Our efforts are clearly focused on reuniting mother and child, and the rest of the family members with the child. That’s the immediate focus,” Jones said.
The BP gas station off Interstate 80 where the baby was left was closed from 9 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday. The temperature was about minus 10 Thursday night in the town and only in the single digits when the child was found.
Jones said it’s unclear how long the newborn was outside in the cold. Kopp said the baby was in excellent health.
The child was taken to an area hospital for evaluation, West Branch Police Chief Mike Horihan said.
The baby’s great-grandfather, Brian Bennett, said he was “surprised” the infant was in good condition.
“It’s funny he lived that long outside. A miracle, I guess,” Bennett, 68, told the AP. “They were just lucky they found him.”
Federal, state and local law enforcement officers had been looking for the baby since early Thursday when his mother, Brianna Marshall, discovered him missing from a bassinet at a home in Town of Beloit, a community of 7,500 people.
A woman from Colorado who had been staying in the same home as Kayden and his mother left the residence early Thursday morning. The baby was reported missing later that morning.
The woman was arrested in Iowa on Thursday on an outstanding warrant from an unrelated case in Texas. Horihan, the West Branch chief, said she was taken into custody at another gas station less than a half-mile from where the newborn was found.
Investigators traced the woman’s likely route of travel through Town of Beloit, Illinois and Iowa, said Robert Spoden, the sheriff in Rock County, Wis. Authorities sent out alerts and asked police to search areas along the route.
Kopp, the Town of Beloit chief, said officers in Iowa had been checking areas along Interstate 80 for the child. However, Jones of the FBI said the child’s discovery was not part of a “directed” search, meaning they weren’t told where to look.
West Branch, where the baby was found, is about 180 miles southwest of Town of Beloit. It has about 2,100 residents and is best known as the birthplace of President Herbert Hoover.
Rock County and federal prosecutors are conferring on what charges to file, if any.
“This investigation,” Jones said, “is far from over.”
In West Branch, Chief Horihan told reporters at the BP station that he found the baby alongside the building. The child was breathing and responsive, he said.
Yellow police tape blocked the area as investigators worked Friday. By early afternoon, the tape was gone and officers had left the scene.
“Surprisingly with the weather the way it was, he was surprisingly healthy,” Horihan said. “To be honest with you, that’s not what I expected.”
Foley reported from West Branch, Iowa.