Jan. 10 (UPI) — Authorities in Mendocino County, Calif., have identified the remains of a fifth child killed last year when her adoptive mother drove the family’s SUV over a cliff, killing the entire family of eight, the sheriff’s office said.
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said a DNA test on the remains — a foot inside a shoe and tangled in a pair of jeans — identified them as belonging to 16-year-old Hannah Hart. A deputy found the remains in May on the beach near the mouth of Hardy Creek in Westport, Calif. Police have not found the remains of one child, Devonte Hart, 15, but believe he too died in the crash.
“It is believed, the most likely scenario is that he too perished in this incident but the case remains open and active,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release Tuesday.
Investigators believe Jennifer Hart, who had a blood alcohol level of 0.10 at the time, intentionally drove the SUV carrying her wife Sarah Hart and their six adopted children 100 feet off the Pacific Coast Highway 1 on March 26.
The bodies of Jennifer Hart and Sarah Hart and three of their adopted children — Markis, 19, Jeremiah, 14, and Abigail, 14 — were found inside or near the SUV at the base of the 100-foot cliff shortly after the crash.
On April 17 police identified the body of 12-year-old Ciera Hart after a vacationing couple found her body near the crash site.
The sheriff’s office said it was able to positively identify Hannah Hart after her biological mother contacted them in October 2018 saying she heard of the deaths. The woman was also the biological mother of Maris and Abigail.
The other three children — Jeremiah, Devonte and Hannah — also are biological siblings.
“She was fully cooperative in this investigation and with the assistance of detectives of the Mobile Alabama Police Department, a DNA sample was obtained from this person and forwarded to the [Department of Justice forensic lab] for comparison testing,” the sheriff’s office said.