Police: Sitter claimed she lost ‘son’ — (The Concord Monitor)

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The Concord Monitor

By LAUREN R. DORGAN, Monitor staff

November 28. 2006 8:00AM

Days before a Laconia woman allegedly kidnapped a 1-year-old boy, the police found her in a “catatonic” state, falsely claiming she had lost her own baby, according to a police report.

Donna Powell, 36, was arraigned yesterday on a felony charge of kidnapping a boy named Rodney whom she sometimes baby-sits, according to a police report. She is being held on $10,000 cash bail and is forbidden from having any contact with the boy, who was returned to his family unharmed after the Saturday kidnapping, according to the police.

Powell had taken Rodney on a shopping trip Saturday with permission from his mother, Kristina Cleveland of Laconia, but she did not return as expected by 6 p.m., the police said. Powell also didn’t respond to repeated phone calls from Cleveland. Cleveland, 32, called the police shortly after 9 that night.

The police immediately sent out an Amber Alert, which was broadcast on television and radio. Powell heard the alert on the radio and called her mother, who then contacted the police. Laconia officers called Powell directly, figured out where she was and sent officers to the area.

About midnight, a state trooper found Powell with Rodney driving north on I-93 near Exit 20 in Tilton.

While she was out with Rodney, Powell had bought a new cell phone and tried to buy a new car, the police said. After her arrest, Powell made several comments about wanting to go to Florida, according to an affidavit by Officer Robert Cameron of the Laconia Police Department.

Just two days before the alleged kidnapping, Cameron had a separate run-in with Powell, according to the affidavit. On Thanksgiving, Cameron was called to Powell’s apartment on a report of a missing 1-year-old boy.

“When I arrived at Powell’s apartment I found her in a catatonic state,” Cameron wrote. “Powell just kept saying that she had lost (her) 1 yr old son, Rodney.”

It took officers 15 minutes to figure out that the child was Cleveland’s, not Powell’s.

“We were able to confirm that Rodney was home and safe with his mother,” Cameron wrote.

A public defender representing Powell did not return a call for comment yesterday.

Powell is unemployed and has no family in the area, according to Cameron’s report. Powell told Cameron that she was on a “large amount of medication” for depression, according to the affidavit. Cameron also described Powell’s oscillating emotions in his report.

“While I spoke with Powell on the phone, her moods would change from calm to very upset to angry,” Cameron wrote.

Yesterday in court, Powell wore a stonewashed denim jacket with a Hard Rock Café logo on the back, and her blond hair was pulled back in a bun.

As police officers escorted her from the courtroom, Powell sobbed loudly, saying over and over again, “I didn’t do it.”

Moments later, confronted by TV cameras and news photographers on the steps of the Laconia District Court, Powell screamed profanities at the crowd.

Her probable cause hearing is scheduled for Dec. 11 at 9 a.m.