In what appears to be yet another missed opportunity to intervene on behalf of the Hart children before at least three of them were killed in an apparent murder-suicide last month, a newly released 911 call reveals that a relative of the Hart’s neighbors was gravely concerned for the well-being of Jennifer and Sarah Hart’s six adopted siblings.
The Seattle Times reports that Steve Frkovich, 80, called the Clark County emergency dispatch back in November after hearing a disturbing story about a visit one of the Hart children made to his daughter and son-in-law’s home in Woodland, Washington.
“The other night, a little girl jumped out of the second-story window on the roof and then down onto the ground and ran to my daughter — and this was like two in the morning — begging them to help her,” Frkovich reportedly told a 911 dispatcher, saying he was worried the Hart children were “being highly abused.”
Although Frkovich had only recently heard about the incident, when Dana DeKalb and her husband Bruce had visited their parents in Tacoma, Hannah Hart’s frantic late-night visit to the DeKalb’s home actually took place in August. The lapse between the timing of the incident and when it was reported may have impacted the Clark County Sheriff department’s decision not to perform a welfare check.
In response to Frkovich’s 911 call, a Clark County Sheriff’s Office deputy contacted Dana DeKalb for more information. Dana reportedly explained to the officer that the girl had come to their home for help two months prior, and that they had not witnessed any incidents since then. The sheriff’s deputy reportedly determined that a welfare check wasn’t necessary, despite Frkovich’s pleas.
“My son-in-law doesn’t want to get involved, but the more I sit on it, I just can’t live with it. Somebody’s got to go there and check on these kids,” Dana’s father said in the 911 call.
“Since she’s told me about it, I just can’t live with it … those kids, I think, are in very serious danger.”
The Seattle Times obtained a dispatch log written after a deputy had followed up with Dana DeKalb.
“This incident happened two months ago,” the log reads. “Dana recently told mom about the situation who in turn told her elderly father who felt it necessary to call police from his residence in Tacoma. Dana said no other issues since this one. Determined a welfare check was not warranted based on this isolated incident.”
Bruce and Dana DeKalb have given several media interviews since the Hart’s SUV was found at the bottom of a cliff on March 26. Five Hart family members were killed, and three of the children are still missing. In one interview with The Oregonian, Dana DeKalb indicated she felt partly responsible for what may have happened, as she believed Jennifer and Sarah fled with their children after a CPS worker knocked on the Hart’s door on the Friday before the apparent murder-suicide. The DeKalbs had called CPS earlier that Friday after Devonte Hart, 15, had repeatedly come to their home asking for food, claiming that his parents were withholding food as punishment.
The DeKalbs told The News Tribune that when Hannah came to them, she was missing her front teeth, and the couple believed her to be about seven years old. They said that Sarah and Jennifer Hart told them later that morning, when the whole Hart family came to the DeKalb’s home with an apology letter. The mothers reportedly said that Hannah was 12 years old, and had been a “drug baby,” born to a bipolar mother. Authorities would later learn, after the fatal crash, that Hannah was 15 or 16 years old at the time. Hannah is still missing, and missing persons flyers list her current age as 16. The DeKalbs also told the newspaper that they didn’t realize the Harts had any children until the August incident, although the family had moved in thee months prior. They said they rarely saw any of the children in the yard during the time that Harts lived there.
It is unclear how much detail Dana DeKalb shared about Hannah’s visit or any observations about the family in her interview with the sheriff’s deputy, which took place four months before Devonte Hart began visiting their home in March.
Sgt. Brent Waddell, a spokesman for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, told the Seattle Times that his department had not received any reports of trouble at the Hart home before the November 911 call, and that decisions about performing a welfare check are handled on a “case-by-case basis.”
Frkovich declined an interview with the Seattle Times.
“I really don’t have a whole lot to say that’s not already been said,” he said.
Sarah and Jennifer Hart, both 38, Markis Hart, 19; Jeremiah Hart, 14; and Abigail Hart, 14, were all killed in the March 26 crash. Devonte Hart, 15; Sierra Hart, 15; and Hannah Hart, 16, are still missing. A body of an African-American female was found in the water near the site of the crash on Saturday, but authorities have said it may take weeks to determine if it is one of them missing Hart children.
[Feature image: Tristan Fortsch/KATU News via AP, File]