PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The DNA analysis of skeletal remains found near the crash site of the Hart family’s car were deemed inconclusive, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Tuesday.
A local resident discovered a pair of jeans with a shoe “entangled inside one of the pant legs on the ocean beach near the mouth of Hardy Creek,” the sheriff’s office said in early May. The jeans were a girl’s size 10, and the shoe belonged to a child.
Authorities found remains of a foot inside of the shoe.
The remains were sent to the California Department of Justice Bureau of Forensic Services Richmond DNA laboratory for further testing and analysis. Hannah Hart, 16, is still technically missing, as is her 15-year-old brother Devonte.
Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Shannon Barney explained that the DNA samples taken from the remains found in May were consistent with other siblings whose bodies were recovered, but not to the extent that the relationship could be definitively determined.
“It basically is inconclusive,” Barney said. “Not going to commit one way or another — not going to rule out the kids are siblings.”
Barney said the sheriff’s office is now attempting to work through the Texas adoption courts to unseal the children’s records, in the hopes of locating blood relatives.
He said the sheriff’s office is also asking potential relatives to come forward if they believe they may have been related to the children, who were adopted at a young age. However, Barney said the sheriff’s office main focus is on unsealing the adoption records.
The lieutenant also shared new details about how the remains were found on May 9. Barney said a local resident located the pants and brought them to the attention of a Hart family friend from Minnesota, who stayed “for a considerable amount of time” in the Mendocino area to search the beach. That family friend, who was not identified, then alerted California Highway Patrol about the evidence.
The Hart family’s GMC Yukon was located crashed off a Northern California cliff in late March. Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman has said his office is investigating the crash as a crime. Toxicology results showed Jennifer Hart, who was driving the vehicle when it crashed, had a blood alcohol level above the legal limit.
Three of the children whose bodies were recovered had the active ingredient in Benadryl — diphenhydramine — in their blood at the time of the crash. This drug can cause sleepiness.
One child’s toxicology report did not show any active drugs in the bloodstream. The sheriff’s office has not shared which three children had consumed the medication prior to their deaths.
Markis, Jeremiah and Abigail Hart were found dead near the SUV soon after the crash in late March. The body of Ciera Hart was found on April 7 and later identified.
Records obtained show a history of child abuse investigations involving the family in Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington. The children were adopted from their home state of Texas when the mothers were living in Minnesota.