By Kevin Murphy
(Reuters) - A 6-day-old baby reported missing from his bassinet in southern Wisconsin was found alive and well in a tote bag at the side of a frozen Iowa highway nearly 200 miles away, police said on Friday.
The infant boy, Kayden Powell, was reported missing by his mother early Thursday morning, sparking a massive search that rallied federal, state and local officials.
A day later, the police chief of West Branch, Iowa, found the baby swaddled in blankets in a tote bag outside a highway gas station, said Steven Kopp, police chief for the town of Beloit, Wisconsin.
"Despite frigid temperatures, Kayden was found alive and appears to be doing very well," Kopp told a news conference. "In the words of EMS officials, he is in excellent health."
West Branch is in eastern Iowa about 185 miles from the town of Beloit in southern Wisconsin, near the border with Illinois.
Kayden's mother, Brianna Marshall, 18, and father, Bruce Powell, 23, have been notified and the efforts now center on reuniting the family, Kopp said.
The infant was found near the area where police had picked up and questioned a woman who had been in the family's home before he disappeared, Kopp said.
The woman is considered a person of interest, but no charges had been filed as of Friday afternoon, officials said. The Rock County district attorney and U.S. attorney in Wisconsin will discuss whether any local or federal charges would be pursued, authorities said.
FBI agent G.B. Jones said authorities had determined that someone left the family's residence, then began to reconstruct the path taken south into Illinois and west into Iowa and asked law enforcement officers to be on the lookout along that route.
"The police chief from West Branch, Iowa, was checking areas right along the Interstate corridor. He heard the baby's cries and recovered the baby," said Jones, who called the action part of the general canvass and not a directed search.
Jones said authorities did not know how long the baby had been outside and said the investigation would continue until all questions were answered.
"We are all very, very fortunate this baby is alive," Jones said.
(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; Writing by David Bailey; editing by Gunna Dickson)