Details are still unraveling in the mysterious case of the Hart family, whose wrecked SUV was found after plunging over a North Carolina cliff. Five bodies were found after the fatal crash, including parents Jennifer and Sarah Hart, Markis, Jeremiah and Abigail. The bodies of Devonte, 15, Hannah, 16, and Sierra, 12, are still missing.
Here’s everything you should know about the case and the Hart family:
There Are 8 Hart Family Members
There are 8 members of the Hart family– two white mothers and six adopted children. All six kids were adopted from Texas. The children’s ages are: Markis, 19, Jeremiah, 14, Abigail, 14, Devonte, 15, Hannah, 16, and Sierra, 12.
Authorities say it is possible that the three missing children were swept away by the ocean, as no one was wearing seat belts.
There Are Reports from Neighbors of Alleged Child Abuse
According to CNN, neighbors called police in the months prior to the crash with allegations of child abuse. The Hart children reportedly cried for help and asked for food, which led to one neighbor calling Child Protectives Services.
Another man, according to CNN, called 911 four months prior to the crash, and told them, “There’s some kids that I feel is being highly abused.” He told authorities that one of the Hart children crawled out of the home’s second story window and came to his daughter’s house at 2 am, “begging for help”.
Others have come forward with similarly disturbing stories of supposed neglect and abuse. One neighbor, Bruce DeKalb, says that one of the young girls in the Hart family came to his door at 1:30 am, saying “she needed help and the parents were not treating her properly.” When he checked in on the family the following morning, he said things seemed normal. Then, just weeks before the fatal crash, Devonte went to DeKalb’s home asking for food “and saying that they were taking meals away from him due to punishment.”
DeKalb subsequently called Child Protective Services. When officials came to the home on March 23, no one answered. Nor was anyone home on March 26 and 27, when they visited again.
One of the Hart Mothers Sent a Mysterious Text Two Days Before the Crash
Two days before the car crash, Sarah Hart sent a text message saying “she was sick and might have to go to a hospital”, according to CBS News. Sarah sent the text message to Cheryl Hart (who, despite having the same last name, is unrelated to the family). Cheryl called 911 on March 26 to report that she had not heard back from Sarah in two days. Hours after calling authorities, the family’s car was discovered.