A suspected murder/suicide in Mendocino County, Calif., last year killed at least seven members of a queer-led family of eight. One of the mothers, Jennifer Jean Hart, was drunk when she drove her family off a cliff on the Pacific Coast Highway and into the ocean more than 100 feet below. Authorities recently identified the seventh victim, 16-year-old Hannah Hart, via a DNA test, according to The Oregonian.
The body of 12-year-old Sierra Hart was found about a week after the crash. Only the body of 15-year-old Devonte Hart — known to some because of a viral photo showing him crying into the arms of a police officer during a Portland Ore., protest — remains missing.
Among those immediately identified were the mothers of the family, Jennifer Hart and Sarah Margaret Hart, both 38, and their foster children — Martin, 19, Abigail, 14, and Jeremiah, 14. It was determined that Jennifer had a blood alcohol level of .102, while her wife and the three kids found at the time had been dosed diphenhydramine, the active ingredient in Benadryl.
The story garnered national attention when it came to light that Jennifer and Sarah had fled their Woodland, Wash., home with the children after complaints from neighbors drew a visit from Child Protective Services.
Dana and Bruce DeKalb called CPS after they said Devonte had repeatedly confided in them that he was being starved as a form of punishment. The DeKalbs said that the Harts refused to open the door for CPS and left in the SUV the following morning.
A woman who identified herself as Hannah’s birth mother provided the sample for the DNA test. She came forward in October after police put out a call for family members to come forward to help.
Following the crash, Jennifer and Sarah Hart’s long histories of abuse became a focal point of the story.
The Washington State Department of Health and Human Services confirmed with KGW that CPS had identified the Hart children as "potential victims of alleged abuse or neglect."
Sarah pleaded guilty in 2011 to a domestic assault charge in Minnesota for spanking one of her daughters over a tub, which left visible bruising on the child’s stomach and back.
“The defendant admitted she let her anger get out of control,” the detective in the case wrote, according to the local news affiliate.
Sarah was charged with misdemeanor domestic assault and malicious punishment, but by pleading guilty to the assault charge, the punishment charge was thrown out. She was sentenced to 90 days in jail but was not forced to serve time as long as she obeyed the terms of her probation.