Police say Devonte Hart, missing sisters ‘possibly’ still alive; mother spotted on surveillance footage day before fatal SUV plunge

The California Highway Patrol has uncovered surveillance footage appearing to show Jen Hart, the mother found dead with her partner and three of her children last week, the day before the family’s SUV went over a cliff from the Pacific Coast Highway. Authorities are now examining the footage to determine which of Jen Hart’s six adopted children may have been with her at the time it was recorded.

Mendocino County Sheriff Lt. Shannon Barney told The Oregonian on Tuesday that the department had obtained video taken in Fort Bragg, California, appearing to show Jen Hart. Lt. Barney did not provide specifics about the nature of the video, but said it did appear to be one of the mothers of Devonte Hart and his five adopted siblings. Jen and her partner, Sarah Hart, were found dead in the front seats of the SUV, but it is yet unclear who was driving when the car went over a cliff.

“It looks like Jen,” Lt. Barney told The Oregonian, adding that the video is “very grainy.”

Siblings Devonte Hart, 15; Sierra Hart, 12; and Hannah Hart, 16; all remain missing after the rest of their family was found dead in or near the SUV last week. Authorities said initially that they believed all six of the adopted Hart children had been in the vehicle, but released a press statement on Monday stating that the search perimeter extended beyond the area of the Pacific Ocean where the car went in, to include “other locations including routes of travel.”

READ MORE: Devonte Hart family’s fatal SUV plunge was likely ‘intentional’: Police

On Tuesday, Lt. Barney told The Oregonian that the surveillance footage is being examined to help determine if any of the Hart children were with the woman believed to be Jen Hart.

“What we’re looking to do is see if all the kids were with them,” Lt. Barney said. “That can kind of narrow our search.”

Lt. Barney also said that authorities believe there could be a chance some or all of the missing Hart children could be staying with friends in Portland.

Devonte Hart, then age 12, gained national attention in 2014 when he was photographed in tearful embrace with a white police officer at an anti-police brutality demonstration in Portland supporting the Ferguson, Missouri, protests over the shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

CrimeOnline spoke to a friend of the Harts who knew the family when they lived in Minnesota, before they moved to Oregon. That friend identified a person they believed the children would go to first if they were in any trouble. CrimeOnline has attempted to reach that person, so far unsuccessfully.

“The most probable thing is that they are with their parents,” Lt. Barney said to The Oregonian about the missing children, but said that authorities are keeping open some possibility that the children are alive.

“I will say there’s a possibility because we can’t rule it out.”


[Feature image: The Hart Family/Mendocino County Sheriff]