Folks will never forget this photo. A young black boy tearfully hugging a police officer in Portland Oregon during a 2014 protest over the deadly police shooting of Mike Brown.
The photo of Devonte Hart, then 12, went viral and showed people that not all cops are bad, and not all black people hate them.
Now some 3 years later, the world’s attention turns back to Hart, but for even more tragic reasons. On Monday, March 26 Hart went missing after his family’s SUV plunged off a PCH cliff, crashing onto the rocky coast 100 feet below.
Authorities were able to find the bodies of his adopted parents Jennifer Jean Hart and Sarah Hart, both 38 and three of his adopted siblings: Martin, 19; Abigail, 14; and Jeremiah, 14. But much was unknown for days about the whereabouts of Devonte, 15, his adopted sisters Sierra, 12 and Hannah, 16.
Now authorities believe their bodies may have washed out to sea, but even more shocking details have been uncovered. According to the CHP North Division the boys parents may have intentionally driven their 2003 GMC Yukon off an ocean overlook near Mendocino, Calif., about 150 miles north of San Francisco.
Capt Greg Baarts of the CHP Northern Division says information pulled from the SUV’s software shows the vehicle was stopped at the highway pullout before it accelerated straight off the cliff. Baarts says the electronic information combined with the lack of skid marks led officials to believe it was intentional.
Other details gruesome details about the Hart Tribe, as they were known, lead many to believe the act was premeditated and the children including Devonte were being abused.
The multiracial family of two married women – Sarah and Jennifer Hart – and six adopted children took spontaneous road trips to camp and hike and traveled to festivals and other events, offering hugs and promoting unity. But inside their Woodland, Washington there were more sinister things going on.
Just three days before their family trip social service authorities opened an investigation apparently prompted by a neighbor’s complaint that the children were being deprived of food. Bruce and Dana DeKalb, next-door neighbors of the Harts, said they called child protective services because 15-year-old Devonte had been coming over to their house almost every day for a week, asking for food.
Devonte also told neighbors his parents were “punishing them by withholding food,” and asked on March 22 if they had called social services yet.
Well before the wreck, Sarah Hart pleaded guilty in 2011 to a domestic assault charge in Douglas County, Minnesota.
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