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He looked around to see if an animal had made a noise nearby. “Am I wanting to find the baby so bad that I’m hearing things?”
Then he heard it again. He looked under the blanket, then turned to yell at his partner, who had the radio.
“I got a baby crying here! Baby crying here!” Horihan yelled. “I found the baby!”
“Infant inside a tote,” the other officer told the dispatcher. “It’s still cryin’ and alive.”
Under the blanket, it turned out, was a thick cocoon of swaddling blankets. And inside the swaddle was the baby, Kayden Powell. He was wearing a white sleeper suit and a little stocking hat.
“The container was pretty much filled with either baby or blankets,” Horihan said. He thinks that when he opened the tote, cold air rushed in and startled the child.
The paramedics carried Kayden into their warm truck and unwrapped him. He was alert, with no signs of frostbite, they told the chief. He didn’t even cry very much.
“I’ve got to tell you, it was totally disbelief. It was total surprise, I just could not believe this was happening,” Horihan said. “Even when the baby was crying, I was thinking, how could this be?”
Aunt is charged
In the days since then, the baby’s aunt — Kristen R. Smith, 31 — has been charged with kidnapping. Charging documents say Smith had falsely claimed to be pregnant and then told others that she had given birth Feb. 5, the day before the kidnapping.
Police said they found a prosthetic pregnancy belly in her car.
In West Branch, Horihan said he’s been thinking about it since.
“I keep on wondering. And I keep on thinking. And I wonder, how could the baby survive? It must have taken a right combination of the right type of clothes on the baby” and the right placement of the bin, he said.
Although the bin was outside, it was behind a building, out of the wind.
“And there must have been just enough air” inside, Horihan said.
In the excitement after the baby was found, Horihan had a reminder of the conditions that the infant had lived through.
He ran back to his car to get a camera so he could photograph the baby in the bin, before paramedics arrived and disturbed the evidence. But he couldn’t.
“It was so cold, the battery in my camera wouldn’t work,” Horihan said.