'It's been a curse': Former inmate says suspect in Savanna's killing and kidnapping revealed all in jail
FARGO — After the new guy was booked into the Cass County Jail on a late August evening of this year, it wasn't long before fellow inmate Bryan Grob found out why.
"He started alluding to 'I'm kinda here for a high-profile case,'" Grob said.
This new guy, William Henry Hoehn, was referring to the killing of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind and the kidnapping of her unborn child — a crime that rocked the region for its grisly nature and its rarity.
The 22-year-old Fargo woman was eight months pregnant when she left her northside basement apartment Aug. 19 for a third-floor apartment rented by Hoehn and his girlfriend, Brooke Lynn Crews, to help Crews with a sewing project.
LaFontaine-Greywind's family did not see her alive again.
Hoehn and Crews are both charged with conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and providing false information to police. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Grob, 40, of Fargo, said Hoehn spilled many details of the crime to him while they were both housed in a semi-segregated section of the jail.
Grob was there on a felony drug charge and was placed in the maximum security area because he was on suicide watch, he said.
Cass County Jail Administrator Andrew Frobig confirmed the two men crossed paths there.
Hoehn was booked into the jail Aug. 24, and Grob was released Aug. 31, Frobig said.
In a court document obtained by The Forum, Grob is listed as a witness in the case. Assistant Cass County State's Attorney Leah Viste, who's prosecuting the case, acknowledged Grob had access to Hoehn in jail, but she wouldn't say whether he'd be a witness at trial.
Grob appears to have nothing to gain by testifying, as he's already been sentenced for the charges against him and is out of jail.
Viste said she asked Grob not to speak with the news media about what he heard. "But I'm not his attorney and can't force him," she said.
Grob told Forum News Service the details of the crime have had a deep, emotional effect on him.
"It's been a curse, in a lot of ways," he said.
Crews interested in midwifery
Grob has lived in Fargo for nearly 20 years, working as a graphic designer and promoter of live music at the Nestor Tavern, which recently closed.
The drug trouble that landed him in jail was a product of ongoing physical and mental health struggles, including heart disease, diabetes, depression and anxiety, he said.
Grob was surprised by the frankness of Hoehn, who he calls "Will."
"He didn't ever give excuses. He didn't try to pass it off," Grob said.
Hoehn told Grob that Crews had studied psychology and wanted to pursue a degree in midwifery, the practice of assisting women in childbirth.
"That's kind of what her plans were, which afterwards, when you think about it, kind of alludes to other things," Grob said.
In an interview with police, Crews claimed Savanna asked her for advice on how to induce childbirth and that Savanna later came up to her apartment and handed over her baby.
Hoehn also told Grob that Crews staged a pregnancy, even showing him "a baby bump."
"He was really confused because, as far as he knew, his wife was pregnant for a little over eight months," Grob said.
On Aug. 24, police executed a search warrant on the couple's apartment and found Crews with a healthy newborn baby they suspected belonged to Savanna. They arrested Crews on the spot and Hoehn soon after at his workplace.
DNA tests later confirmed that Savanna and her boyfriend, Ashton Matheny, were indeed the baby's parents. Matheny has custody of daughter Haisley Jo, who's now more than 3 months old.
Hoehn 'did walk in on it'
Grob said he wouldn't talk specifics about Hoehn's story because he doesn't want to jeopardize the court case.
He did, however, confirm that Hoehn said he left work early the day Savanna disappeared and interrupted Crews in their apartment.
"He did come home, he did walk in on it," Grob said.
Hoehn also told him that prior to their arrests, he and Crews planned to cooperate fully with police and plead guilty to the crime.
"They just wanted the death penalty taken off the table," Grob said.
Prosecutor Viste said she had no knowledge of that information.
Crews' attorney, Steve Mottinger, said he didn't want to comment on anything Grob had to say. Crews has a court hearing scheduled for Monday, Dec. 11, where she's expected to change her plea to guilty.
Hoehn's attorney, Daniel Borgen, could not be reached for comment. Hoehn is set for a court appearance on Wednesday, Dec. 6.
Believes Hoehn's story
Grob said what impacted him the most is what happened after word spread that Savanna's body had been found, wrapped in plastic and duct tape in the Red River north of Fargo-Moorhead on Aug. 27.
Police said her death was caused by "homicidal violence."
Grob walked up to Hoehn's cell window to see his face, pale and white.
"He looked to me and said, 'They found a body,'" Grob recalled, adding, "I've never seen a look like that on a person's face before."
Sometime after he was released from jail, Grob offered to tell Savanna's family what he'd heard about the crime. He said he was told they didn't want to know.
An email seeking comment from Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing Savanna's family as a spokesperson and victim's advocate, received no response.
Grob said he believes Hoehn's account of what happened and that he hopes Savanna's family and the community can prepare themselves for when the details come out at trial or otherwise.
"This is going to absolutely just roll over everybody, and in a lot of ways, it's not what people think," he said.