A police report obtained by news station KOIN has revealed that a responding officer observed little indication that six children were living in the Hart home in Woodland, Washington.
Jennifer and Sarah Hart died with four of their adopted children in late March when Jennifer drove the family’s SUV over a cliff in northern California, in what authorities believe was an intentional act. Devonte Hart, 15, and Hannah Hart, 16, remain missing.
The family appears to have left the home shortly after a CPS case worker came to the home on Friday, March 23. No one answered the door, and the family is believed to have left the home by the next morning. The crash was discovered on March 26.
KOIN obtained incident reports from the Clark County Sheriff’s office, detailing the conditions of a search of the home and including the content of text messages Sarah Hart sent to co-workers early on the morning of March 24.
“I am so sorry. I thought I would be able to go to work but I’m too sick to come in,” Sarah texted at 2:53 a.m. “I may actually need to go into the doctor.”
“I won’t be able to open the store,” she reportedly wrote.
After the crash site was discovered, officers went to the Hart home in an effort to determine if any of the children had been left behind. At that time, only three of the Hart children had been found deceased. A fourth body was found in early April, and partial skeletal remains appearing to belong to a female child were found near the crash site in May. Authorities are still working to identify those remains.
According to the incident report of the home search, Clark County Sheriff’s Office Detective Joe Swenson observed that the appearance of the home did not indicate that six children lived there.
“After walking through the house, I did not get the indication that children lived in the house,” De. Swenson reportedly wrote in the report.
The report, and photos taken at the scene, show that the home appeared to be very tidy, and that suitcases and toothbrushes were left behind, suggesting that the Harts did not plan to be away for long. A second family car was found parked in the driveway.
“The house was so orderly and nothing seemed out of place regarding any belongings, toys or entertainment items the children may have owned,” Swenson wrote.
“There was very little to show the children had access to any toys or items of entertainment, save for some board games found in the downstairs family room.”
A second detective, Lindsay Schultz, noted that that it was not possible to determine where the children slept.
“None of the rooms were personalized for the children or showed the supporting elements that children lived in the residence,” Detective Schultz wrote in the report.
Photos of the refrigerator indicated the fresh groceries had recently been purchased. There also appears to be several meat items in the refrigerator, despite reports that the Harts practiced a vegetarian lifestyle.
Several bottles of wine were also pictured, despite a friend’s claim, as reported by the Seattle Times, that Jennifer and Sarah hart “weren’t big drinkers.” (Jennifer Hart was legally drunk at the time of the fatal crash.)
When asked if investigators had or were planning to extract DNA samples from items in the home for comparison to the remains found in May, a Mendocino County Sheriff’s spokesperson told CrimeOnline the department would not be testing items in the home because any DNA found there would indicate only that an individual was in the home at some point, and would therefore not be conclusive enough.
It is unclear if or how authorities are continuing to search for the two missing Hart children. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s office is working with agencies in the state of Texas to help locate biological relatives of Hannah Hart to aid in the identification of the remains found in May.
[Feature image: AP Photo/Don Ryan]