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For safety reasons, prison to consider separating Crews from other inmates

Brooke Crews leaves Cass County District Court on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018, after her sentencing for conspiring to murder Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind. David Samson / Forum News Service

FARGO—Convicted killer Brooke Lynn Crews is still being held at the Cass County Jail, segregated from other inmates, awaiting transfer to the Dakota Women's Correctional and Rehabilitation Center in New England, N.D., according to a jail official.

Once she gets to prison, she will be given an orientation that will lay out the rules of prison life, and she will be evaluated, said Barb McGillivray, director of women's services at the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

McGillivray said that special circumstances, such as the need to separate Crews from others in the prison for safety reasons, will be considered as part of the evaluation.

McGillivray said a prisoner swap with another prison elsewhere in the country is also a possibility. While such speculation is premature, "there have been cases where that has occurred," she said.

At the Cass County Jail, Crews has been held in "administrative segregation," in a cell apart from other inmates, since she was arrested and charged with the August death of 22-year-old Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, said Jail Administrator Capt. Andrew Frobig.

It is not solitary confinement, Frobig said, but there are no opportunities for physical contact between Crews and the jail's other inmates.

The nature of the crime Crews admitted to committing—luring LaFontaine-Greywind to her apartment, then cutting the pregnant woman's daughter from her womb, an act that led to the death of LaFontaine-Greywind—has inflamed public sentiment against Crews, and that can carry over to inmate populations, Frobig said.

"I just can't take the chance. She's pretty much Public Enemy No. 1, and I don't want anybody doing anything impulsive that might one, cause her harm, or two, cause new charges for somebody else trying to seek revenge," Frobig said. "She's housed in cells that are next door to other inmates and things like that. She's just not physically out of her room at the same time that other inmates are out."

Frobig said Crews has not been a troublemaker. He said jail staff are making sure she can't be physically threatened.

"We've not put her in a position where she could be threatened with any physical harm," he said. "My goal is just to ... make sure she gets (to the women's prison) safe and sound. When she's there, (she's) their problem to deal with."

The women's prison in New England has 70 minimum-security beds, 40 medium-security beds, a 16-bed orientation unit, and a five-bed Special Management Unit for high-security prisoners that was added in May 2006.

Crews, 38, of Fargo, was sentenced Friday, Feb. 2, to life in prison without the chance of parole after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and providing false information to police.

Crews' boyfriend, William Henry Hoehn, 32, also of Fargo, has pleaded not guilty to the same charges she faced. Hoehn lived with Crews upstairs from LaFontaine-Greywind.

His trial is set to start May 15 in Cass County District Court. Crews may have to testify at Hoehn's trial, and she could be returned to the Cass County Jail for a time, Frobig said.

Arrangements are now being made to move Crews to the prison, but the timing of the transfer won't be made public. That's a security precaution taken for all prisoner transfers, Frobig said.

"We don't want anybody on the off chance intercepting us on the way or anything like that," he said.

Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including K-12 education, Fargo city government, criminal justice, and military affairs. He is currently one of The Forum's business reporters.

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