01 Septiembre 2017 11:50
The cause of death has yet to be revealed
The city of Fargo is located in North Dakota, near the border with Minnesota. It is an area considered by many to be deep, rural America. The city has a population of barely 200,000, but the eponymous Coen brothers film about three brutal murders that take place in the city put it on the map.
The Coen brothers' film was entirely fictional, but a real-life homicide mystery has now made the world pay attention to the city of Fargo once again. Last Sunday, the citizens of Fargo woke up to the news that 22-year-old Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind had been found dead in Red River. The river marks the border between North Dakota and Minnesota, so the police departments of both states are working together to solve the case.
The young victim, who was employed as a nursing assistant West Fargo senior center, was eight-and-a-half months pregnant. Her body was discovered on the riverbank by kayakers, wrapped in plastic and duct tape. Savanna had been missing since 19 August, when, according to the victim's mother, Norberta LaFontaine-Greywind, Savanna had gone upstairs to their neighbours' apartment.
Savanna had apparently been asked by her neighbour Brooke Lynn Crews, 38, to model a dress that Crews was sewing. Savanna left her house at around 2 PM on Saturday in her slippers and without her wallet. She had promised to take her little brother to work afterwards, so when she didn't come home he went up to look for her. Nobody opened the door, but this didn't seem particularly suspicious at the time. Norberta agreed to take Savanna's brother to work instead.
But after two hours had gone by with no word from the young woman, her father went up to look for her. Crews opened the door and told him that his daughter had gone – something which greatly surprised Savanna's parents. 'I immediately knew something was wrong because [my daughter’s] car was here,' Norberta told Forum News Service. 'She’s eight months pregnant. Her feet were swollen, so she wouldn’t have taken up walking like that. She would not just leave that lady’s apartment and go somewhere.'
Savanna was supposed to give birth on 20 September and often posted about her pregnancy on Facebook. In fact, she had published a video minutes before her disappearance. When Savanna didn't reply to her family's messages, Norberta reported her disappearance to the local police station. Soon, the whole city was searching for the young woman.
Since the couple in the upstairs apartment were the last people to see her alive, they were questioned several times. Police searched the apartment but found no trace of evidence until, four days after Savanna went missing, Fargo police entered the residence for the fourth time and found a three-day-old baby girl. Crews confessed that the baby was Savanna's daughter and claimed that the young mother had left her daughter with Crews and run away.
Crews's boyfriend, William Henry Hoehn, 32, who has previous convictions for domestic violence and for physically abusing his youngest son in 2011, told authorities that when he got home he found his girlfriend in the bathroom, covered in blood and with the baby in her arms. She then reportedly said: ‘This is our baby. This is our family.’
Crews tells a conflicting story. She claims that Savanna came to her flat on 19 August and asked her to show her how to induce labour. She then returned two days later and gave her the newborn baby, Crews said.
It is still not known how exactly Savanna died, but police have stated that she was 'victim of a cruel and vicious act of depravity'. Crews and Hoehn have been accused of kidnapping, murder and giving false information to police. The primary hypothesis is that Crews murdered Savanna and stole her baby – something known in the US as 'womb raiding'.
However, according to this report in TwinCities, Crews has been a mother seven times with three different men and has ended up abandoning all her children. She gave birth to her first daughter before she was 15 years old.
A preliminary autopsy confirmed that Savanna was the victim of homicide, but police have not released more details about how she died, or how her baby was born. Police say they are waiting on DNA results to confirm that the child found with Crews is Savanna's. The little girl is reportedly in the custody of Cass County Social Services.
On Tuesday, Savanna's boyfriend, Ashton Matheny was finally able to see the baby believed to be his daughter. 'It was the best feeling I’ve ever had,” Matheny told Inforum. 'I wish Savanna could have been there to enjoy it with me. After all these dark days, she lit my day right up.'
He hasn't been told when to expect the test results or how long it will take for custody to be awarded. 'All I'm doing now is playing the waiting game,' he said. 'We have to go through the courts, the whole legal system. I wish I could have brought her home already. But they have guidelines to follow.'