Devonte Jordan Hart
Devonte, approximately 2018; Devonte and his adoptive family; Jennifer Hart; Sarah Hart; Hart family vehicle
Date reported missing : 03/26/2018
Missing location (approx) :
Missing classification : Endangered Missing
Gender : Male
DOB : 10/24/2002 (18)
Age at the time of disappearance: 15 years old
Height / Weight : 4'10, 90 pounds
Distinguishing characteristics, birthmarks, tattoos
: African-American male. Black hair, brown eyes. Devonte's Height / Weight : are approximations. His last name at birth was Davis.
Information on the case from local sources, may or may not be correct : At 4:15 p.m. on the afternoon of March 26, 2018, the police were called to the site of a car crash off Highway 1, near Juan Creek, north of Westport, California. A brown 2003 GMC Yukon XL SUV with tinted windows, registered to Jennifer Jean "Jen" Hart, had gone off a cliff and landed on the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean, over 100 feet below. A tourist saw the vehicle lying upside down, partially submerged in the surf, and called the police.
The bodies of Jen and her wife Sarah Margaret Hart (formerly Sarah Gengler), both 38, and their adopted children Abigail, 14, Hannah, 16, Jeremiah, 14, Markis, 19, and Sierra, 12, were all eventually located. None of them had been wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. Authorities believe they all died within seconds.
The two adults and Abigail, Jeremiah and Markis were found in the vicinity of the crash site at the same time the vehicle was discovered. The three children were floating in the surf outside the vehicle. Sarah was inside it, in the backseat. Jen was in the driver's seat, but when the car was being winched up the side of the cliff, her body fell out and had to be retrieved later.
Sierra remained missing for another two weeks, when her body was found floating in the ocean near the cliff. A single foot from Hannah was also found washed ashore on May 9, but authorities were initially unable to identify it. In October 2018, Hannah's biological mother reached out to police and submitted a DNA sample. In January 2019, the DNA results proved the foot was Hannah's. Only Devonte is still unaccounted for.
Despite the lack of skid marks at the scene, the police initially thought the crash could have been an accident. Within days, they however, they announced it had been a criminal act, a murder-suicide.
Jen had been driving the SUV. Data from the vehicle's "black box" computer showed the driver had come to a stop at a gravel pullout about 70 feet from the cliff's edge, then had accelerated off the cliff. She never attempted to apply the brakes, and when the car hit the water, the speedometer was stuck at 90 mph.
When police examined Sarah's phone, they discovered that while the car was in motion in the hours before the family died, someone was doing research online using the phone. The searches were later deleted, but a forensic examination of the phone recovered them.
The searches included questions about how to overdose on over-the-counter medication, how much Benadryl would be needed to kill a woman of Sarah's weight, and how quick and painful death from drowning and hypothermia would be. There were also searches about no-kill shelters for dogs. The family dog, which usually traveled with the Harts, has not been seen since the crash, and there's no evidence it was dropped off at a shelter.
When the family's Garmin GPS was found several weeks after the crash, investigators discovered they'd stopped at a Walmart in Washington and one of the women had bought a bottle of diphenhydramine (an over-the-counter nausea and allergy medication that causes drowsiness, often known by the brand name Benadryl), paying cash for it.
Jen hadn't taken any diphenhydramine, but she was legally drunk at the time of her death. She rarely drank alcohol, but before her death she consumed the equivalent of five alcoholic drinks. Sarah had the equivalent of 42 capsules of diphenhydramine in her blood at the time of her death.
The three children whose bodies were recovered immediately, whose blood could be tested, also had high levels of diphenhydramine in their blood, although none of them had enough to be fatal. Markis had the most, the equivalent of 19 capsules. The recommended dose listed on the bottle is one or two capsules. According to people who knew the Hart family, Sarah and Jen often gave the children Benadryl on long car rides so they would sleep through them.
At autopsy, the coroner did not find that the children were emaciated, but they were all very thin and only Markis weighed more than 100 pounds. Abigail had bruises on her backside near the top of her leg; the bruising was recent but had not been caused by the crash.
When the police searched the Hart residence in Woodland, Washington after the crash, they found it in an extremely neat, clean condition, to the point of being "very sterile." Jen and Sarah's bedroom had a double bed with a colorful quilt and other decorations. The six children apparently slept in two different rooms; one of the rooms had a single twin bed, and the other had no beds, only two foam loveseats and a padded mat on the floor.
There were no items in the house such as games, posters, toys, or other personal belongings that would have been used by children or teenAge at the time of disappearance: rs. There were also no family photos; although there were picture frames hanging on the walls, the frames were all empty. The investigators who searched the home found little indication that children had lived there.
Jen had recently written on social media about keeping a lot of plants inside until it got warm enough to bring them outdoors, and for years she had been outspoken about her and her family's commitment to a vegetarian diet and organic foods. However, the police found various kinds of meat and processed food in the fridge, and no plants anywhere in the house. Jen had also claimed the family owned no television set, but a large-screen television was in the family room.
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