The day Ashton Matheny buried his longtime girlfriend, Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, was also the day he learned that DNA tests had confirmed that a baby found in a neighbor's apartment was theirs.
On Monday, he shared the news — a bright spot in what's been a tragic time for LaFontaine-Greywind's family and friends since the pregnant 22-year-old disappeared Aug. 19. Five days later, police serving a search warrant to a couple living in the same Fargo apartment building found the newborn baby. The pair are accused of planning to claim the girl as their own.
"I've been waiting to be a father for a while," Matheny said Monday. "She's the only good thing that came out of this. She looks a lot like Savanna."
The dark-haired, smiley baby, Haisley Jo Greywind-Matheny, is healthy and has been with her father since she was released from the hospital. The family brought the baby to her mother's funeral in Fargo last week, joining hundreds of other family, friends and strangers from across the region.
"The family is just very happy they can be with her now," said Janel Herald, a family friend and spokeswoman. "She's a little bottle of sunshine."
LaFontaine-Greywind was eight months pregnant and both she and Matheny were anticipating the birth of their first child at the end of September.
Her body was found in the Red River on Aug. 27 and, while a full autopsy report hasn't been released, preliminary results show she died from homicidal violence. The accused couple, Brooke Crews, 38, and William Hoehn, 32, have been charged with conspiracy to kidnap and murder LaFontaine-Greywind.
LaFontaine-Greywind's parents, Norberta and Joe Greywind, moved out of the apartment they shared with their daughter last weekend, Herald said. They also celebrated Grandparents Day on Sunday by caring overnight for Haisley Jo — her middle name honoring her grandfather — cherished time with the baby for a grieving family, Herald said.
"Her story touched people not just locally ... it's worldwide," Herald said. "It's united people in an act of love, just praying for Savanna. She was able to bring people together that way. Haisley Jo will continue to be that way."
The crime has shocked the Fargo-Moorhead area and made international headlines. Messages have poured in on social media with offers of money, baby clothes or other items.
A fund has been set up to help the family, with donations accepted at any U.S. Bank or by mail (Haisley Jo Donation Fund, U.S. Bank, 505 2nd Av. N., Fargo, ND, 58102). And vigils have been held in her memory — from St. Paul to Seattle, Winnipeg, Sioux Falls, S.D., and her hometown of Belcourt, N.D.
"It's kind of blowing my mind how much people have supported [us]," Matheny said, adding that he's gotten messages from strangers worldwide.
Now, he's just relishing time with the couple's baby girl, a calm, happy infant who smiles often, especially when her father, a musician, sings to her.
"She's a really good baby," he said. "I love being a father."