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She vanished 8-months pregnant. Police found a living newborn—and tragedy, they say

A week ago, 20-year-old Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind disappeared eight-months pregnant. Police found her two-day-old newborn last week alive, they say, and now have found Greywind’s body in a nearby river.
A week ago, 20-year-old Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind disappeared eight-months pregnant. Police found her two-day-old newborn last week alive, they say, and now have found Greywind’s body in a nearby river. Fargo Police Department

A healthy, two-day-old newborn typically inspires celebration and joy.

But for the family of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a 22-year-old Fargo, N.D. woman who disappeared earlier this month at eight-months pregnant, the joy of meeting her newborn baby was mixed with dread.

Although her baby was alive—discovered at the apartment where Greywind was last seen alive, police say—authorities, family and a community searching up and down for clues still couldn’t find the baby’s mother, who vanished August 19, according to the Fargo Forum.

That mystery came to a tragic end on Sunday, police say, when two kayakers stumbled on a body wrapped in plastic along a nearby river. The body was hung on a log, not far from where searchers were combing a nearby farmstead looking for leads.

“There are some suspicious items in that farmstead that lead us to believe that that may be a crime scene,” Fargo Police Chief David Todd told the Forum after the body was discovered. The body has now been sent to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office in St. Paul, Minn., Todd said, where it awaits an autopsy.

Greywind was living in an apartment with her parents and other family when she disappeared on Aug. 19. She told her mother she was headed upstairs, to a neighbor’s apartment, to model a dress the neighbor was sewing.

When Greywind didn’t come down, her mother, Norberta LaFontaine-Greywind, sent her 16-year-old son upstairs to check on his sister. No one answered the door when he knocked, but he told his mother he heard a sewing machine running in the apartment.

Later, Joe Greywind, her father, went upstairs to see if she was there. The woman who answered the door told him Savanna would be a bit longer, according to the Forum.

Hours later her mother went upstairs, and the neighbors told her Savanna had left.

But Greywind never came home—and a week later, police say, her newborn child was discovered in the apartment where Greywind was last seen, the home of 38-year-old Brooke Crews and 32-year-old William Hoehn, according to KVRR. Both were arrested on suspicion of kidnapping after police searched their home and found the baby they said they believed was Greywind’s child.

Police are still waiting for DNA confirmation that the child is Greywind’s, but they say that the two suspects have already confirmed the baby is hers.

Last week, the police chief told the Forum that police were investigating a host of possible explanations for the disappearance—“including Savanna being held against her will and/or her unborn child being induced or removed and possibly being alive.”

Kidnapping expecting mothers to take their children is extremely rare, according to experts the Fargo Forum interviewed. But it’s not unheard of: In 2015, a Colorado woman found an ad for baby clothing on Craigslist, and when she went to pick it up she was attacked by a woman allegedly trying to cut her fetus out of her womb, according to CNN.

“There’s a clear pattern in women who do this,” John Rabun, an infant abduction expert for the Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, Va., told the Forum. “They are women who need to cement a relationship with a male significant other. She has a need to have a male bonded to her and she'll do whatever she has to do.”

But experts say this case doesn’t fit the typical profile in kidnappings of mothers to steal their newborn children.

“If it turns out to be what we’re talking about, it would be unusual because, in most cases, the man is just on the periphery,” said Ann Burgess, a Boston College nursing professor who was a lead researcher in a 2002 study on newborn kidnapping by Caesarean section. “He isn’t part of what's going on until after the fact.”

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