In the three days since a passerby accidentally noticed an SUV at the bottom of a cliff along the California coast, investigators have found that five members of the same family were killed in the accident.
But three of the family's children are missing, and investigators say it's not even certain they were in the SUV at the time it crashed 100 feet into the sea.
Among the missing is a teenager who made national headlines when he appeared touching photo during a protest a few years ago.
Nobody reported having seen the crash, so the authorities are not sure when or how it happened.
And in the family home in Washington state, hundreds of miles to the north, neighbors say the socially committed eight-member family ̵
Downed in the Water
The bodies of Jennifer and Sarah Hart, both 38, were found on Monday in their overturned SUV near a remote stretch of Highway 1 in northern California, said the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.
Outside the car, the forces found the bodies of Markis Hart, 19, and Jeremiah Hart and Abigail Hart, both 14. They found scattered items, including a purse, nearby.
The vehicle had fallen from a shallow, gravel-strewn ledge into the water where travelers could stop to admire the view, walk with their dog or stretch their legs, the sheriff said. Investigators found no skid marks or skid marks, and Sheriff Tom Allman said it is not yet clear whether the SUV was rolled or launched from the edge.
What is known is that three of the Hart children are missing: Hannah, 16; Devonte, 15; and Sierra, 12. The sheriff said there was "every clue" that they also drove in the SUV, but it was possible they were lagging behind with friends.
It was Devonte, who appeared in the viral photo of 2014, was picked up in a protest by Oregon against police brutality following the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. Devonte, who is black, was shown hugging a white policeman as tears poured into the then-12-year-old's face.
Suspicion of neighbors
MPs from the Clark County Sheriff's Office in Washington conducted a search warrant at the family home in Woodland on Thursday night for evidence in the Missing Case, Sgt. Brent Waddell said. He said the office is working with California authorities to find the missing children.
Harts neighbor, Bruce DeKalb, said the family moved about 10 months ago and was "very private." He said he rarely saw the children playing outside, even in the warmer months.
Another neighbor, Bill Groener, said the children were trained at home and stopped most of the time.
DeKalb told HLN on Thursday he was upset with encounters he had with two of the Hart children
"One of the girls came to the door at 1:30 in the morning and said she needed help and that Parents did not treat them properly and they wanted us to protect them, "said DeKalb. "In the end, we brought her back to her parents … and then I went over the next morning and just looked, and everything seemed to be normal, and we let it go from there."
DeKalb said he and he wife also met Devonte, the only child he saw outdoors, such as the dumpsters to and from the street.
About a week ago, he (Devonte) stopped by and asked for food and said they were taking it away because of punishment, "said DeKalb HLN." And it started once a day and escalated up to three times a day, until one week passed and we decided that we needed professional help. "
Last Friday, DeKalb said, calling it Child Protective Services, they arrived shortly after Jennifer Harts arrival at the house, he said, and she did not answer Hard did not come home long, he said, and on Saturday morning the family and their vehicle had disappeared.
Other view of the couple
After the Friday visit, Child Protective Services attempted to visit the family twice more On Monday and Tuesday, in vain, according to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, the agency attempted to make contact after the "now deceased children were identified as potential victims of alleged M or neglect were identified, "it said in a statement by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.
The department said they have no family history.
Before the Harts moved to Washington, they had lived in Minnesota, where Sarah Hart pleaded guilty to domestic violence against one of the children in 2010, according to court records from Douglas County, Minnesota The child had a back pain for a primary school teacher and tummy, which became noticeable as bruises. Hart told the police she had beaten the child over the edge of a bathtub for behavioral problems. She was sentenced to community service and one year probation.
"Jen and Sarah were really the kind of parents the world hopes the world needs," said friend Zippy Lomax to KOIN.
When MPs came to the family home on Tuesday for the charter, they found conditions that indicated a trip was temporary, Allman said. They found belongings, a pet and a few chickens.
Although the authorities do not know when the SUV crashed off the cliff, Allman asked for information about the whereabouts of the family in the hours leading up to the crash. He said that there is no reason to believe that the wreck was an intentional act.
"I'm sure they went somewhere special and fun," she told the newspaper, "how they often did. "
CNN's Cheri Mossburg, Miguel Marquez, and Rosalina Nieves of Los Angeles contributed to the report.