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Sheriff’s Office on Hart investigation: ‘Very frustrating’

Clark County
sgt brent waddell clark county sheriff office 08272018_1535412738819.jpg.jpg

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — The question people are asking over and over again is, “Why?”

Investigators are treating the Hart family’s case as a crime — indicating they believe the car crash that killed two women and at least four of their six adopted children was intentional. Still, the motive behind this decision remains the big, unanswered question.

Sgt. Brent Waddell with the Clark County Sheriff's Office, August 27, 2018 (KOIN)

It is true that Washington’s Department of Human Services Child Protective Services agency tried to contact the mothers shortly before the family fled to California — and that the family had a history of child welfare concerns in two previous states where they lived.

But Clark County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Brent Waddell said that investigators in his agency weren’t able to locate a suicide note, a message, or even any journal entries that spell out a clear intention.

“It’s very frustrating,” Waddell said. “It’s human nature — we want to put a reason to things happening.” 

KOIN 6 News was first to report on March 23 on previously unreleased incident reports related to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office investigation of the Harts’ Woodland, Wash. home. The home revealed few signs of the family’s six children — prompting Det. Joe Swenson to write in a report,  “After walking through the house, I did not get the indication that children lived in the house.”

Waddell said the condition of the home raised many questions for investigators about where the children lived in side of the home and what sort of daily routine the children kept.

“Anyone who has kids knows they can make a mess. They live in their space. This one didn’t look quite as lived in,” Waddell said. 

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office was involved with investigating the Harts’ home, but much of the case has been handled by agencies located in California, where the fatal crash happened. 

The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office is continuing its work identifying human remains discovered near the crash site in May. Those remains were found in a girl’s shoe, tangled in a pair of jeans. 

Initial DNA tests proved inconclusive, so the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office is asking biological relatives of Hannah Hart to come forward. Hannah and Devonte remain missing following the crash.

Lt. Shannon Barney said no relatives have contacted the sheriff’s office. The agency has, however, located the Texas court in which Hannah’s adoption was processed. Barney said they’ll be petitioning the court to unseal those records in order to try to locate relatives.

Photos: Inside the Hart Family home

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