'She was fixated on my daughter': Mother recalls bizarre encounter with woman accused in Fargo kidnapping
FARGO—The family hadn't even sat down at their table when the woman across the restaurant stood up from her meal and made a beeline to the baby girl with big brown eyes, dark skin and dark hair.
Roxane Cartwright and her husband Tim had finalized the adoption of their Pacific Islander infant the day before. The woman approached, trembling, saying repeatedly, "She's exactly what I want," while motioning that she wanted to hold the baby.
"Her eyes were huge, she was fixated on my daughter," Cartwright said.
She's virtually 100 percent certain the woman she encountered that day was Brooke Crews.
Crews, 38, and William Hoehn, 32, are both charged with conspiring to kill 22-year-old Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind and kidnap her unborn child. LaFontaine-Greywind disappeared Aug. 19 after visiting Crews' and Hoehn's apartment two floors above where she lived with her family.
Crews was arrested with LaFontaine-Greywind's baby Aug. 24 and the mother's body was found in the Red River north of Moorhead three days later.
Cartwright had been following the case of Fargo's missing pregnant woman.
When she saw Crews' mugshot after the arrest, she felt a chill.
"My hair stood up. I knew right away it was her," Cartwright said, reflecting on the odd encounter almost one year ago.
Cartwright lives in Williston with her husband, their four sons and the baby girl they adopted in Arkansas last September.
The family was making the long drive back from there when they stopped to meet other family members at IHOP restaurant in Fargo the morning of Sept. 2, 2016.
They were waiting for their table to be cleaned when the woman, who was seated with a man, shot up and quickly walked over.
When one of Cartwright's sons sensed the woman acting like the baby should be hers, he piped up, "That's my sister Sofia."
According to Cartwright, the woman replied, "Sofia, that's the name. That's exactly what I want."
Cartwright said the woman spoke loudly and other people around them in the restaurant noticed.
To de-escalate the situation, Cartwright said she got between the woman and Cartwright's cousin, Shannon Brown, who was holding the baby.
Cartwright took the baby and sat down with a blanket, pretending to breastfeed, while the woman kept staring and making funny noises.
"It was the most bizarre situation I've ever been in," Cartwright said.
According to charging documents, Crews has applied for a court-appointed attorney because she's been unemployed since 2014 "because of illness."
Crews doesn't specify what that illness is.
She also writes, "I've been ill for quite a while with no family able to help."
Cartwright wishes she had called police after the incident at IHOP a year ago, but doesn't know if they would have been able to do anything.
"I have my baby," Cartwright said.