FARGO -- Family and friends of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, frustrated by the lack of results in the search for her and the time it took to find the baby believed to be hers, launched their own search on Friday while Fargo Police asked for the public’s help in looking for the 22-year-old woman not seen in a week.
Meanwhile, Cass County State’s Attorney Birch Burdick said Friday afternoon that formal charges against the two people arrested in connection with the kidnapping, Brooke Lynn Crews and William Henry Hoehn, will not be filed until next week.
More than 100 people, including members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and the Belcourt Fire Department, turned out Friday afternoon at Trollwood Park in north Fargo to search it and the surrounding neighborhood for LaFontaine-Greywind. Her mother is a member of the Turtle Mountain Tribe.
“We’re not going to sit and wait,” said Tarita Silk, LaFontaine-Greywind’s aunt, who helped organize the search. “Fargo Police don’t want us to do anything. We sat for five days. The baby was sitting upstairs. That was just too much. We need to go find Savanna.”
LaFontaine-Greywind disappeared last Saturday after being asked to help a fellow tenant of her apartment complex fit a dress being sewn, her family said.
Fargo Police Chief David Todd said at a Friday press conference the investigation had to move carefully so those responsible did not harm the pregnant woman or her baby. He reiterated that an extraordinary amount of manpower and tools were devoted to the case from the beginning.
Todd said police have “combed” the area around her apartment complex. The Fargo Fire Department on Friday continued its daily rescue boat searches of the Red River from the North Dam.
Searches of the area and river, however, appear to have produced no information about LaFontaine-Greywind’s whereabouts.
When asked whether those searches had revealed any clues about her location, Todd said, “Not that I know of. But those searches are continuing. Now we’re asking for the public’s help.”
Todd called on the public “throughout the city” to “check their property, buildings, garages, outbuildings for any sign of entry or any sign of someone having been there.”
He asked landlords to check vacant apartments for any sign of entry or use. He also requested people look through dumpsters for suspicious materials. A call for the public’s help was posted on the Fargo Police website.
Police also asked the public to contact them if they saw a brown 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee four-door with Minnesota license plates 876 EPR anytime between last Saturday afternoon, Aug. 19, and Thursday, Aug. 24.
Residents of the apartment building where the woman disappeared say the vehicle belonged to Hoehn. Police towed the vehicle from the building parking lot on Thursday. The vehicle is pictured on the Fargo Police Department Facebook page.
Fargo Police on Friday were also following up on information learned in hours-long searches of the apartment building on Thursday and early Friday, as well as searches of electronic devices. Fargo Police investigators and representatives of the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation were at the apartment complex well into the night.
Todd said police are “targeting searches to other areas based on information gathered.”
Chief Todd also provided greater detail Friday about the investigation that enabled police to find the newborn baby and arrest the two suspects on Thursday.
“Until Wednesday,” he said, “we had not yet established a criminal nexus to this case that would allow us to obtain warrants for a residence and electronic devices. We were running constant surveillance and investigating several different theories regarding Savanna being held against her will and/or her child being induced or removed and possibly alive.”
Rumors that police were prompted to act by a report of someone hearing a baby cry is false, Todd said.
Police entered the third-floor apartment of Crews and Hoehn by force and found Crews with the baby. Crews was arrested and taken away in a patrol car. Hoehn was arrested in a traffic stop in an undisclosed location. The baby Crews had with her was taken by ambulance to Sanford Children’s Hospital, where it was checked over and is doing fine. Social services is now caring for the child.
The two suspects confirmed to police that the baby belonged to LaFontaine-Greywind.
“The interviews were cooperative up to that point,” Todd said. He said the suspects refused to provide any information on LaFontaine-Greywind’s whereabouts or whether she is alive.
Todd said there are no other suspects in the case.
“We have the right people,” he said.
When asked why three previous searches of the apartment where Crews and the baby were found did not yield more useful information or the baby, Chief Todd said those searches were simple visual searches conducted without search warrants and with consent of the occupants.
“There is the possibility that the infant was not in the apartment,” he said. “It may have been moved to a different location.”