The Ottumwa Courier

AP Iowa

February 12, 2014

Woman accused of taking nephew has criminal past

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A woman accused of kidnapping her 5-day-old nephew and leaving him outside an Iowa gas station as police closed in on her has a long criminal history with frequent moves and multiple names, but nothing in her past indicates why she might have taken a child.

The woman who was arrested in Iowa has been charged as 31-year-old Kristen R. Smith, of Denver. But court documents and warrants obtained by The Associated Press show the same woman faces other charges elsewhere as Kristen L. Pearson, who is 32.

Even Smith's family appears confused by her identity. She is accused of taking her nephew from a Town of Beloit home where she had been staying with her half-sister and the child. In a 911 call released Monday, Brianna Marshall, the baby's 18-year-old mother, told police after she discovered her son missing that she wasn't sure of her half-sister's last name. Police quickly tracked Smith to Iowa, and the baby was found the next day and returned to his mother.

Police have refused to speculate on a possible motive, though court documents say Smith had written emails saying she gave birth on Feb. 5. She also wrote Facebook posts about being pregnant and had a prosthetic pregnancy belly in her car when police arrested her.

She faces active warrants relating to fraud, false representation and document tampering in unrelated cases in at least three states. In Texas, she has been charged as Smith. But in Indiana and Wisconsin, she is charged under the name Pearson.

Smith appears to have changed her last name after marrying last year, a move that's not unusual for women. But the use of different middle initials and two different birthdates seems to have tripped up law enforcement and may have led to Smith being released from a Colorado jail while she was wanted for felony crimes in other states.

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