No one recalls seeing Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind leave her small apartment building in Fargo, North Dakota, on Aug. 19, 2017 — the day she vanished without a trace while she was eight months pregnant.
When her body was discovered eight days later in the nearby Red River, three days after her 5-day-old daughter was found in the possession of her upstairs neighbor, Brooke Crews, theories ran rampant.
How she was killed? How did she give birth? And how did she leave — or was she taken? — out of her apartment building?
On Tuesday, jurors in the trial of 33-year-old William Hoehn, who is charged with conspiring to commit murder in the death of LaFontaine-Greywind, heard what happened the day the 22-year-old disappeared, according to multiple news outlets.
The version of events came directly from Brooke Crews, 39, the woman who is serving a life sentence after admitting to her own murder conspiracy charge in December.
Hoehn has pleaded guilty to two lesser charges in the case: conspiracy to commit kidnapping and providing false information to authorities in their investigation of LaFontaine-Greywind’s death, online court records show.
Hoehn’s attorney, Daniel Borgen, told jurors last week that his client only helped Crews cover up the murder but did not commit any homicidal violence himself.
Taking the stand on Tuesday morning, Crews reportedly described how she set out to steal LaFontaine-Greywind’s unborn baby to salvage her relationship with Hoehn and how the two hid the young woman’s body — and her newborn — from police.
Crews testified that in early 2017, she lied to Hoehn about being pregnant because she thought he wanted her to have a baby, local TV station KVLY reports. She told the court that during an argument that August, Hoehn admitted he knew she wasn’t pregnant but because he had previously told others she was expecting, he demanded that she “produce a baby,” according to KVLY.
This alleged demand, she claimed, led her to believe she had “better have a baby, no matter how it happened,” the outlet reports.
When Hoehn allegedly mentioned how “that Greywind girl is really pregnant,” Crews testified that she thought that meant he wanted her to take LaFontaine-Greywind’s baby, KVLY reports.
In court on Tuesday, Crews — who changed her story during the course of the investigation and previously claimed that LaFontaine-Greywind willingly gave up her child before vanishing — said that after she brought LaFontaine-Greywind up to her apartment under the pretense of helping her with a sewing project, she pushed the younger woman, who then hit her head on the bathroom sink and was struck unconscious, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead reports.
However, on Monday, medical examiner Dr. Victor Froloff testified that LaFontaine-Greywind showed no signs of a head injury, according to the Forum.
With LaFontaine-Greywind lying on the floor, Crews testified that she grabbed small razor blade, such as a carpenter’s knife or a box cutter, from the kitchen and sliced open LaFontaine-Greywind’s abdomen, taking her baby out of her womb as she drifted in and out of consciousness, the Forum and Grand Forks Herald report.
When Hoehn came home and saw Crews on the floor with LaFontaine-Greywind, he allegedly asked if she was dead, to which she replied, “I don’t know. Please help me,” she testified, according to the Forum.
After retrieving a rope from another room, Hoehn put it around LaFontaine-Greywind’s neck and said, “If she wasn’t dead before, she is now,” she testified, local station KVRR reports.
Dr. Froloff told the court on Monday that he wasn’t able to determine whether LaFontaine-Greywind died of blood loss or strangulation from the rope that was tied around her neck, according to local TV station WDAY.
“I can’t undo what I’ve done. But I can do everything in my power to own up to what I did,” Crews said on the stand, according the Forum.
Hidden in Plain Sight
When LaFontaine-Greywind failed to return home more than an hour after she went upstairs, her parents went looking for her, asking Crews where their daughter was, with Crews telling them she had no idea, LaFontaine-Greywind’s mother, Norberta Greywind, previously told PEOPLE.
Police have said they knocked on Crews’s door at 5 p.m. on Aug. 19, searching the apartment that afternoon and then again on Aug. 20.
Crews testified that the body was stuffed in the bathroom closet of her apartment during both of those searches, KVRR reports.
The baby was hidden under blankets next to Hoehn when police searched the apartment on Aug. 19, she testified, according to the outlet.
On Aug. 20, Hoehn hollowed out his dresser and put LaFontaine-Greywind’s body inside, Crews testified. Wrapped in towels and plastic, she was hidden inside the dresser when police searched the apartment on Aug. 20, Crews told the court, according to KVRR.
Crews said that in the early morning hours of Aug. 21, she and Hoehn carried the dresser down the stairs and loaded it into their Jeep Cherokee, KVRR reports.
On Monday, Hoehn’s former Cass County Jail cellmate Bryan Grob testified that Hoehn told him he hid the body in a dresser, WDAY reports. “Nailed the front piece to the back of it and moved it down the stairs himself,” Grob testified.
While Grob said Hoehn shared details of how he helped Crews dispose of LaFontaine-Greywind’s body, he testified that Hoehn told him he did not help Crews kill her, the Forum reports.
But when Grob opened up about the difficulty he had with an ex-girlfriend’s abortion, he said Hoehn responded in an unsettling way, saying, “Well, I would have just cut the baby out of the b—-,” KVRR reports.
Haisley Jo, LaFontaine-Greywind’s baby, now 1, miraculously survived her mother’s amateur C-section. She lives with her father, Ashton Matheny, Savanna’s longtime boyfriend.
She is learning to walk, shakes her head ‘no,’ and “has a lot of personality,” Matheny told PEOPLE last week. “She’s quiet a lot, but when she’s comfortable around people she talks a lot and will let out a happy scream when she’s excited.”
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Haisley Jo and Ashton with child-raising expenses.
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