US couple accused of killing pregnant woman, taking baby

Ms Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind's body was found in a river in a neighbouring state, on a log, heavily wrapped in plastic and duct tape. William Hoehn and Brooke Crews have been charged in connection with the murder.
Ms Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind's body was found in a river in a neighbouring state, on a log, heavily wrapped in plastic and duct tape.PHOTO: FARGO POLICE DEPARTMENT
Ms Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind's body was found in a river in a neighbouring state, on a log, heavily wrapped in plastic and duct tape. William Hoehn and Brooke Crews have been charged in connection with the murder.
William Hoehn (left) and Brooke Crews (right) have been charged in connection with the murder.PHOTO: FARGO POLICE DEPARTMENT

FARGO (North Dakota) • Ms Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind was to give birth to a baby girl this month.

She and her boyfriend Ashton Matheny had just signed a lease on a new apartment where they would live with their daughter, whom they had decided to call Haisley Jo.

But Ms LaFontaine-Greywind's body was found last weekend in a river in another American state, on a log, heavily wrapped in plastic and duct tape. Her baby was found in her neighbours' apartment.

The girl had been born weeks early, in what Fargo police chief David Todd described as a "cruel and vicious act of depravity" committed against the mother, a certified nursing assistant who was part of a Native American Indian tribe, and her child.

Two tenants of the apartment in Fargo, North Dakota, that Ms LaFontaine-Greywind, 22, went to on Aug 19 have been charged over her death, but they have given conflicting statements to investigators.

William Hoehn, 32, said he came home from work that day to find Brooke Crews, 38, cleaning blood in their bathroom. Then, she showed him an infant girl. "This is our baby, this is our family," she told him, according to an affidavit.

Hoehn admitted throwing away garbage bags containing bloody towels and his bloody shoes into a dumpster in a neighbouring city.

Crews told investigators she taught Ms LaFontaine-Greywind how to break her own water to induce childbirth, the affidavit said. She then claimed the young woman left the apartment, returned early on Aug 21, and handed Crews a newborn. But by then, police and Ms LaFontaine-Greywind's family had been looking for her for two days.

After searching the apartment four times, officers finally found a newborn girl in good health on Aug 24. Ms LaFontaine-Greywind's body was found by kayakers on Sunday in a river across the state border in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Hoehn and Crews have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping and giving false information. Police declined to say whether the case is one of foetal abduction, where a pregnant woman is forced to give birth or a baby is forcibly removed from the womb.

Mr Matheny said DNA samples have been taken from him to confirm the baby is his."All I wanted was a life with Savanna and my baby," he told a local TV station. "But they took it from me. My world's gone, man. They took my world from me."

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2017, with the headline 'US couple accused of killing pregnant woman, taking baby'. Print Edition | Subscribe