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Hart Family: Body Recovered Near Site Of Deadly Crash Could Be Missing Girl

Police are investigating whether the body is one of the Hart children who have been missing since the crash. 

By Sowmya Krishnamurthy
The Hart Tribe Crash Becomes A Crime Investigation

Police recovered a body Saturday near the Northern California site where a family took a fatal and apparently deliberate plunge last month. It could be one of the two missing girls from the crash, authorities said.

The body "appears to be that of an African American Female," but its age and identity could not be determined, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said. The cause of death was also unknown.

The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said it is investigating whether the body is one of the Hart children who have been missing since the family's crash. An autopsy will be conducted Tuesday, while DNA testing for a possible identification could take weeks. 

Police found five bodies from the Hart family — married couple Jennifer and Sarah — near Mendocino March 26. Three of the children — Devonte, 15; Hannah, 16; and Sierra Hart, 12 — have been missing since then. The official cause of the crash is under investigation, but police said that the vehicle's software data suggests the plunge off a 100-foot cliff was deliberate, and that there has been no indication that it was an accident. Police said Jennifer was driving the car when it fell.

The sheriff's office said approximately 10 searchers will be scouring the vicinity of the crash site this week for evidence. 

Sarah and Jennifer Hart lived with their six children in Washington State. Three days before the crash was reported, the state's Department of Social and Health Services received a call that six Hart children appeared to be potential victims of abuse or neglect. Sarah Hart had pleaded guilty in 2011 to a domestic assault charge in Minnesota for allegedly spanking one of her children, according to the Associated Press. 

[Photo: Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office]

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