Economy

The troubling past of a family whose car plunged off a cliff

The troubling past of a family whose car plunged off a cliff

The California Highway Patrol on Sunday said preliminary evidence, including a lack of skid marks at the edge of the Mendocino County cliff, lead them to believe there was intent behind the deaths of Sarah and Jennifer Hart, 19-year-old Markis, 14-year-old Jeremiah and 14-year-old Abigail.

Emergency responders found the bodies of three of their six adopted children - Markis, 19, and Jeremiah and Abigail, both 14 - outside the vehicle, which landed upside down on the rocky shoreline below the cliff.

One of the children, Devonte Hart, drew national attention when the black youngster was photographed hugging a white police officer during a 2014 protest in Portland, Oregon, over the deadly police shooting of a black man in Ferguson, Missouri. Devonte Hart, 15, Hannah Hart, 16, and Sierra Hart, 12, are still missing, but officials presume they were also killed in the accident.

He said California authorities were "tirelessly searching for the missing children along the coastline", while authorities in California and Washington were "conducting interviews and attempting to establish a timeline and routes of travel in an effort to rule out any other possibilities".

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) said the GMC Yukon appears to have stopped near the edge of the cliff at a roadside rest stop.

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The other person who died was was from the Chicago area, said Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold. Arnold said that the Centers for Disease Control are sending epidemiologists to help in the investigation.

"We're going under the assumption at this point that Devonte, Hannah and Sierra were in the vehicle, but we don't have 100 percent information", Capt. Greg Van Patten from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said.

The children were adopted in Texas in 2006 and 2009, according to Tiffani Butler, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Or whether their three other children are dead or alive. As of now, they do not know why the family was in California.

Sarah Hart told police she and her partner didn't usually spank their children.

The bodies of three of the children were not recovered as of early Monday, but officials said they believed all the children were in the vehicle, along with their parents.

Court records show that in April of 2011, while living in Minnesota, Sarah Hart plead guilty to abusing Abigail Hart and was sentenced to a year of probation for misdemeanor domestic assault. Last year, one of the daughters came to the same neighbor's home in a blanket, saying her parents abused her. The sheriff appealed to anyone who might have seen the family of eight to come forward. "And it started out as one time a day and escalated up to three times a day, until a week went by and we decided that we needed to get professional help".

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Dekalb said there were signs of trouble, prompting her to call child protective services.

On Wednesday, 28 March, Porse invited Franklin families with children under five years old, to join some of their in-home educators, nannies and children for a fun-filled Easter Hunt at Schlaepfer Park, on Ostrich Farm Road.

A passing motorist discovered the vehicle on March 26, three days after social service authorities in Washington state opened an investigation apparently prompted by a neighbor's complaint that the children were being deprived of food.

According to KPTV, police have obtained a search warrant for the Hart home in Woodland, Washington state.

"We have not made any findings in this investigation and we had no prior history with this family", the agency said.

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