FARGO—After 10 days of misery, Ashton Matheny finally got to feel a little joy this week.
Matheny, boyfriend of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, the pregnant Fargo woman who disappeared and whose body was found eight days later in the Red River, finally got to see the baby girl that everyone assumes is theirs.
The baby is being held in protective custody by Cass County Social Services until DNA results can confirm that they are the parents.
Matheny got to visit her for 90 minutes on Tuesday and Wednesday. Savanna's parents, Norberta and Joe Greywind, got to the see the baby for the first time on Wednesday, Aug. 30.
"It was the best feeling I've ever had," Matheny said. "I wish Savanna could have been there to enjoy it with me. After all these dark days, she lit my day right up."
Matheny and LaFontaine-Greywind named the child Haisley Jo. She was expected on Sept. 20. LaFontaine-Greywind was eight months pregnant when she disappeared on Saturday, Aug. 19, after going upstairs in her north Fargo apartment building to help a neighbor who asked her to model a dress the neighbor was sewing. She never returned.
The following Thursday, Aug. 24, police entered the upstairs apartment by force and found a healthy newborn baby girl in the possession of the same upstairs neighbor, Brooke Lynn Crews. Crews and her live-in boyfriend, William Hoehn, were arrested and have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and providing false information.
The suspects told police that the child belonged to LaFontaine-Greywind, but custody cannot be awarded until DNA results are received. Police have not released any information on whether the baby was born naturally, induced early, or taken from the mother violently.
Remarkably, the baby has experienced no significant health problems, according to Matheny, despite the circumstances of its birth and the fact that it was born four weeks early.
"She's my miracle baby," Matheny said. "She was perfect coming in."
Matheny, 21, got to hold the baby and take photos, though he's not yet willing to share those with the world. A social worker supervised the visit. He's hoping to be able to visit her again soon.
He brought the baby a rosary and a star quilt. Her grandfather, Joe Greywind, brought balloons.
"It was pretty overwhelming," Matheny said.
'She's Savanna all the way'
Matheny and LaFontaine-Greywind, both members of the Spirit Lake tribe, met in 2011 at Devils Lake High School. They started dating two months later and had been together ever since.
LaFontaine-Greywind had long, straight brown hair, big green eyes and freckles. Matheny looked at baby pictures of her before going to the hospital on Wednesday and said the baby looks exactly like her, particularly how she looked as an infant.
"She's beautiful," said Matheny. "She's Savanna all the way."
LaFontaine-Greywind, 22, lived in an apartment on Ninth Street North with her mother, father and siblings. She worked as a certified nursing assistant at Eventide Fargo, a senior citizens residence. She had moved to Fargo in January 2016 for her job.
Matheny had been living in Minneapolis, working construction, when she became pregnant, but quit his job and moved back to North Dakota as the baby's due date approached. They had rented an apartment together across McKinley Park from the building where the Greywind family lives and were scheduled to move in Sept. 1. He was looking for work in Fargo.
Once custody is awarded, however, Matheny now plans to move back to the Spirit Lake Reservation with his daughter. He had been living there temporarily with his father, and doing construction on his dad's house to earn money for the baby. Now he wants to return to the reservation permanently. He's found a place to live and will look for a job once he returns.
He's now staying in a hotel in Fargo with his father, awaiting the DNA results and custody decision. 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."