On March 26, Devonte Hart, his five siblings and his adoptive parents were allegedly in an SUV that went off a cliff in Northern California. His adoptive parents Jennifer and Sarah Hart, both 39, and three of the children, Markis Hart, 19; Jeremiah Hart, 14; and Abigail Hart, 14, have all been reported dead. Their three other adopted children are missing, 16-year-old Hannah Hart, 12-year-old Sierra Hart and 15-year-old Devonte, who is known for a viral photo in which he is hugging a police officer in November 2014, are missing. The family lived in Woodland, Washington, near Portland, Oregon, and were reportedly on a road trip.
Police originally said they had “no reason” to believe the crash was intentional. Now, according to KGW8, Greg Baarts, acting assistant chief for California Highway Patrol’s northern division, said, “We do have reason to believe, however, that the crash was intentional.”
CBS News reported the Harts were abusive parents with neighbors claiming Devonte came to their house and said his parents were punishing them by withholding food. The neighbors also claimed in May 2017, “one of the girls rang their doorbell at 1:30 a.m. She ‘was at our door in a blanket saying we needed to protect her,’ Bruce DeKalb said. ‘She said that they were abusing her.'” All of the children were homeschooled but now there are more details coming out about why they weren’t in public school.
The Oregonian reports when the family lived in Minnesota, “Sarah Hart reached a probation agreement April 14, 2011, a week after she pleaded guilty to physically abusing one of her daughters, who was then 6 years old.” The next day, only a couple months before the school year ended, all of the children were immediately removed from public school. Therefore, it appears the reason why the children were homeschooled was because the parents were exposed as being abusive. Even worse, in Oregon and Washington, the two states they lived after Minnesota, the Harts never filed the proper notices — the states “require families to tell officials that they’re homeschooling their children, with notice to their local school system.”
Also, back in 2008, “An Alexandria police report obtained Tuesday also shows a different daughter told authorities in 2008 one of her mothers bruised her with a belt. Asked by police about the beating, Jennifer and Sarah Hart said the girl had fallen down the stairs days before, the report shows.”
How were these adults able to keep adopted children after such a history of abuse? Clearly, CPS ignored obvious signs that may have saved the children’s lives.
Below is the famous photo of Devonte Hart.
Our condolences go out to everyone affected by this tragedy. We hope Devonte and his siblings are found.