UPDATED, August 15:
A spokesperson for the Mendocino County Sheriff’s office clarified to CrimeOnline on Wednesday that the person who alerted authorities to the remains was already in the area when they were alerted to the remains by a resident. A full story is forthcoming, but the below article has been edited to correct and clarify information obtained from another news outlet that appears to have been misinterpreted.
The analysis of humans found near the site of the Hart family crash 11 weeks ago could not determine the identity of the deceased individual, Mendocino County Sheriff’s office confirmed on Tuesday.
A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office told KOIN that DNA analysis could not conclusively determine if the remains found belong to Hannah Hart, who is still missing after her adoptive mothers and four of their adopted children were killed in what appears to have been a murder-suicide: Jennifer Hart drove the family’s SUV over a cliff in Mendocino County in late March.
In early May, the skeletal remains of a foot were found inside a shoe appearing to belong to a juvenile female, along with girl’s clothing. After repeated inquiries, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s office told CrimeOnline on July 12 that authorities were seeking additional, “better” samples to compare to DNA taken from the remains.
Two of those found dead at the crash site in March are believed to be Hannah’s biological siblings, Abigail and Markis Hart. But Lt. Shannon Barney told KOIN that while a DNA comparison of the the remains found in May were consistent with deceased siblings, the results were not definitive enough to confirm they are related.
“It basically is inconclusive,” Barney told the news station. “Not going to commit one way or another — not going to rule out the kids are siblings.”
On Twitter, a KOIN reporter further clarified his statement about a DNA comparison.
— Gabrielle Karol (@gabriellekarol) July 24, 2018
Barney also revealed to KOIN an unusual detail about how the remains were brought to the attention of law enforcement. A local resident reportedly found the pants, but instead of contacting police, contacted a friend of the Harts from Minnesota, who had reportedly been in the area searching for items related to the fatal crash. That person reportedly alerted authorities after realizing that the shoe contained skeletal remains.
Lt. Shannon Barney told KOIN that the Mendocino Sheriff’s Office is working with Texas courts to unseal the Hart children’s adoption records. At this time, little is known about the early childhood of Hannah Hart and her siblings Markis and Abigail Hart, both deceased.
Authorities are also asking anyone who believes they might be a relative of the Hart children to come forward.
[Feature image: Alameda County Sheriff’s Office via AP]