Bringing partial closure to a shocking case that has gripped the Fargo-Moorhead area, a 38-year-old woman on Monday admitted guilt in the killing of a pregnant Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind as part of a plot to keep the woman's baby.
Brooke Crews, of Fargo, pleaded guilty to conspiring to murder the 22-year-old LaFontaine-Greywind. She also pleaded guilty to conspiring to kidnap LaFontaine-Greywind's child and giving false information to law enforcement, according to documents filed in Cass County District Court.
Crews remains held without bail until her sentencing, set for Jan. 16.
"I'm very happy that at least one of the two that is currently being charged has admitted their part in the crime against Savanna," said Janel Herald, a close family friend. "Hopefully, she gets the greatest penalty in North Dakota, which is life without the possibility of parole.
"Whether or not that's justice in the eyes of the law, that's the only thing that we here can hope for.
"Nothing can bring Savanna back."
The charging document says Crews conspired with her boyfriend, William Hoehn, "to murder Savanna Marie LaFontaine-Greywind in order to obtain her fetal child."
Hoehn awaits trial in March on charges of conspiracy to kidnap and conspiracy to murder.
According to the charges, Crews lied to police when they questioned her several times about LaFontaine-Greywind's disappearance, providing information that "the defendant knew to be false and materially mislead the investigation."
LaFontaine-Greywind was eight months pregnant when she disappeared Aug. 19 after visiting the apartment Crews shared with Hoehn. LaFontaine-Greywind lived with her parents in the same six-unit building in north Fargo, not far from North Dakota State University.
Her parents said she went upstairs to help Crews with a sewing project, and they became alarmed when she didn't return promptly.
After repeated urging from the family, police began investigating the woman's whereabouts.
Crews voluntarily allowed police into her apartment three times for questioning, but they saw no evidence of a crime. But after getting reports that Hoehn had told co-workers about a newborn, investigators obtained a search warrant for the couple's apartment.
They smashed in the door and found Crews with a newborn. DNA testing confirmed that the baby — later named Haisley Jo — was the child of LaFontaine-Greywind and her longtime boyfriend, Ashton Matheny.
Police said Hoehn admitted removing garbage bags containing bloody towels and his own bloody shoes from the apartment and disposing of them in an apartment building trash bin at an unknown location in West Fargo.
LaFontaine-Greywind's body was found by kayakers on Aug. 27 in the Red River about 6 miles north of Fargo, wrapped in plastic and duct tape. It was the end of an eight-day search that drew hundreds of volunteers.
Police and prosecutors have kept a tight lid on the case, releasing little beyond the most basic information.
Shortly after the arrests of Crews and Hoehn, police issued a statement saying that LaFontaine-Greywind had died of "homicidal violence." Police Chief David Todd called her death "a cruel and vicious act of depravity."
The baby is living with Matheny, her father.