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Police: Newborn found alive where pregnant woman vanished

Joe Greywind, Kayla Greywind, Norberta LaFontaine-Greywind and Ashton Matheny walk across the street after meeting with law enforcement at the scene of 2825 9th St. N. in Fargo on Thursday, Aug. 24. David Samson / Forum News Service1 / 2
Christipher Miranda, left, hugs Ashton Matheny, boyfriend of missing 22-year-old Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, at the scene of 2825 9th St. N. in Fargo on Thursday, Aug. 24. David Samson / Forum News Service2 / 2

FARGO — A potentially unthinkable story began to reveal itself Thursday, Aug. 24, when the investigation into the disappearance of a pregnant 22-year-old woman resulted in the discovery of a healthy infant at a north Fargo apartment building.

Two people were detained for questioning, police said. Meanwhile, the missing woman, Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, has not been found.

The case of LaFontaine-Greywind, who went missing Saturday afternoon from her north Fargo apartment building, saw a break Thursday afternoon when police, responding to a tip, arrived at the building and searched an upper-floor apartment where they discovered an infant, according to a Greywind family spokeswoman and residents of the building, which was evacuated when police arrived Thursday afternoon.

Tarita Silk, LaFontaine-Greywind's aunt, told The Forum that police told the family that they found a 2-day-old baby in the building.

Fargo police said in a Facebook post that an unidentified child was taken to Sanford Children's Hospital. The child was in good health and was placed under the protective custody of Cass County Social Services, police said.

Police Chief David Todd said in a video posted to Facebook that developments in the investigation on Wednesday led to a search warrant being executed "at the suspect's residence" on Thursday.

"We discovered an infant that appears to be a newborn infant. At this point in time, we're not able to confirm if that newborn infant is Savannah Greywind's child or not," Todd said, adding that there is no new information on LaFontaine-Greywind's whereabouts.

Silk said she suspects the baby is LaFontaine-Greywind's.

At one point Thursday afternoon, police allowed Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind's family members into the apartment building, and they emerged carrying baby clothes and a photograph.

Silk said relatives and friends of the family planned to search for clues near Buffalo River State Park east of Moorhead based on a tip that LaFontaine-Greywind's phone may have "pinged" a cellphone tower in that area. Police later told the family they have no such information about her phone.

Not long before 3 p.m., the apartment building at 2825 9th St. N. was cordoned off with police tape. Detectives were seen going door-to-door in the neighborhood to ask questions.

Todd asked the public for patience, as "this is at a critical juncture of the investigation, and we want to make sure we are as thorough as possible so we can get correct answers to all the questions people have."

The identities of the two people detained by police were not released.

A third-floor resident of the apartment building was recently arrested on a warrant for an unpaid fine sometime after Lafontaine-Greywind was reported missing.

The resident, William Henry Hoehn, paid in full an outstanding balance of the fine related to a violation of a no-contact order that did not involve Lafontaine-Greywind, and he was released from the Cass County Jail.

Meanwhile, a north Fargo woman went public this week to refute a Facebook post that accused her of being involved in the disappearance of Lafontaine-Greywind.

The woman, Dawn Kirby, said she has a criminal past, but is not a monster and that she has never met Lafontaine-Greywind.

Kirby is a registered sex offender for having sex with an underage male. Kirby told The Forum she voluntarily talked to Fargo police on Wednesday.

Police have said they do not believe Kirby is involved.

Lafontaine-Greywind's Twitter profile says her due date is Sept. 20. On Aug. 13, she tagged her boyfriend of six years and soon-to-be father, Ashton Matheny, in a Facebook post that read: "A little bit more things & we will almost have everything for our little baby. Getting so close."

On June 23, Lafontaine-Greywind posted a photo of a scene she was to soon find herself in, at the hospital delivering her first child.

"Congrats to my baby cousin on her sweet baby girl!" she wrote along with a photograph of the newborn with her cousin Michelle Leftbear.

A few days later, Lafontaine-Greywind updated family and friends on her pregnancy, posting on Facebook that she was 28 weeks along and that she was "feeling lucky" with Matheny.

Matheny told WDAY-TV this week that he was texting Lafontaine-Greywind Saturday and last heard from her around 1:30 p.m.

The couple was about to move into an apartment together, Matheny told WDAY.

Todd said the Police Department has "put all of its resources toward solving this case from the beginning," including 35 detectives, four sergeants and two lieutenants. The investigation has included aircraft and watercraft searches, as well as using K-9s to find LaFontaine-Greywind. They also have received help from outside agencies.

There was no word Thursday evening as to whether police had found signs of LaFontaine-Greywind, who lives with her parents in a first-floor unit of the building.

As investigators moved in and out of the building Thursday, residents of the building watched from across the street, including members of LaFontaine-Greywind's family.

At times, police escorted family members to a mobile forensic laboratory to update them on what was being learned.

At one point, authorities brought in dogs to search the apartment building, and Silk said afterward they apparently found something, though family members were being told by police not to share what they were told.

Family members say LaFontaine-Greywind left the apartment Saturday to help an upstairs neighbor who needed a model while sewing a dress, but she never returned home.

The Fargo Fire Department spent part of Thursday morning searching a stretch of the Red River from the North Dam near the 12th Avenue North toll bridge to County Road 21 in north Fargo.

Early Thursday, Fargo police posted an update on search efforts on social media, stating:

"Our Investigations Division, including all detectives from personal, property, street crimes and narcotics,are dedicated to bringing Savanna home. We've also been working with local, state and federal partners. We have spoken to her family, her boyfriend, neighbors, employer, and anyone the family has mentioned as a friend.

"We have attempted to trace/ping her cell phone with negative results. We have conducted two K9 searches of the area with negative results. The Fargo Fire Department has conducted a river search and an aerial search with the assistance of the U.S. Border Patrol. Both of those searches were negative. We have also conducted three searches of the apartment where Savanna was allegedly last known to be. Those searchers were negative as well. At this time we are continuing to follow up all leads," the post said.

At a prayer event held Wednesday at the downtown Sanford Medical Center, Amanda Vivier, spiritual director of the Native American Christian Ministry, called on the public to place pressure on Fargo police to devote more resources to the search.

On Thursday, Vivier stood outside the downtown Fargo police station holding a sign that said the FBI needs to be involved in the search.

She said police had told her the FBI was being kept informed about the case, but as of Thursday morning there was nothing to indicate the FBI had jurisdiction to join the investigation officially.

Anyone with information about LaFontaine-Greywind's whereabouts is asked to call Fargo police at (701) 235-4493, text a tip to (701) 730-8888 or call the tip line at (701) 241-5777.

Dave Olson
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