One week ago, a Washington-based family’s SUV plunged off a 100-foot cliff in California and landed in the Pacific Ocean. Authorities now believe the crash may have been intentional.
The bodies of Jennifer and Sarah Hart and their children Markis, 19, Jeremiah, 14, and Abigail, 14, were discovered on March 26. Their other kids, Hannah, 16, Devonte, 15, and Sierra, 12, are still missing and feared dead.
“Pure acceleration all the way,” Greg Baarts, acting assistant for the California Highway Patrol’s Northern Division, told USA Today on Monday, April 2. “We have reason to believe . . . the crash was intentional.”
The speedometer of the family’s 2003 GMC Yukon was pinned at 90 miles per hour when it was found. But the investigation is still ongoing. “That information is not conclusive or factual,” Baarts told Washington news station KGW8 on Sunday. “The speedometer could have moved at impact or somehow was manipulated.
During a telephone press conference that evening, a California Highway Patrol spokesperson revealed that Hart’s vehicle stopped a pullout and then accelerated over the cliff, a distance of about 70 feet. As previously reported, there weren’t any skid or brake marks.
Meanwhile, troubling details continue to emerge about the Harts. Neighbors of Jennifer and Sarah called Child Protective Services to visit their Woodland home on March 23, according to KGW8. CPS confirmed that they had opened an investigation, which identified the six adopted siblings as “potential victims of alleged abuse and neglect.” When CPS tried to reach the parents on Friday, Monday and Tuesday they were unable to do so.
One person in their neighborhood told KWG8 that Devonte said his mothers didn’t feed them and withheld food as punishment. Neighbor Bruce DeKalb told The Washington Post on March 30 that Hannah knocked on his door at 1:30 a.m. covered in weeds after jumping out of her home’s second-story window. He described the 16-year-old as missing some front teeth and looking like she was only 7. “This kid was totally losing her mind,” he told the paper. “Just rattled to the bone.”
According to Minnesota court documents obtained by The Washington Post, Sarah, 38, was convicted of misdemeanor domestic assault in 2011 after police said she hit one of her daughters.
“There have been red flags,” Baart told USA Today on Monday. “To the best of my knowledge, there was not a suicide note found at the residence.”
Devonte, who is still missing, made national headlines when a photograph of him embracing a white police officer during a 2014 demonstration went viral.
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