BABY FOUND: Events Shock Small Town

Residents in West Branch are surprised that the baby who was the focus of a multi-state search was found in their tiny town.

Police say a woman who pretended to be pregnant stole her half sister’s newborn baby boy Thursday from the woman’s Wisconsin home, sparking the search.

The alleged kidnapper, Kristen Smith, was contacted by police and told to pull over at a the nearest gas station. It happened to be a gas station in West Branch.

Hours later, police say, they found the baby at a different gas station nearby, in a bin outside.

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“This morning I was here and the chief came in around 10 a.m. from the West Branch Police and he asked about the baby,” said BP Gas Station Manager Jay Patel. “I have (sic) no idea about it then. He went outside and by the dumpster he found the baby in a tote. That was very exciting news.”

Exciting for the whole town, that a baby, just a few days old, could survive such an ordeal.

But also strange for residents that it would happen in this community with a population of just over 2,000. It’s all folks were talking about at the Casa Tequila Restaurant in West Branch.

“I think it’s pretty incredible that the baby was found alive but it’s crazy that it happened here in West Branch.” said resident Kara Rex, “Not much usually happens here.”

Folks we spoke with in West Branch say they’re proud of their police chief for finding the baby safe and sound.  The chief tells us it was a collaborative effort between local, state and federal authorities.

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