"Two Questions, Eight People"


Brought to you by GS K. If we map the genetics of disease could we change? Its course a GS k we know the information encoded in our genes provides vital knowledge, so we're working with partners to Dakota using technology like an advanced search engine we can spot the patterns that lead to diseases like Parkinson's or Alzheimer's because by identifying the patterns that cause disease we hope to transform how patients are treated in the future back in January a few weeks after Hannah hearts remains were identified. Our field reporter Lawrence Miley reconnected with sheriff Tom almond about the upcoming coroner's inquest, Lauren. Good morning, Tom almond from Mendocino. You'll remember sheriff men. He's been on the heart case since the crash and hasn't wavered on his conviction that it was an intentional act. He was the one who told us that the proceedings of the two day hearing would evidence that will shock the consciousness of people who are following his case. Sheriff almond is jovial and good natured. He's allowed talker. And sometimes whereas sheriff star pinned to the lapel of his navy suit. He's been known to give exploding fist bumps. One gets the sense that not only does Tom omen. Love his job. He loves the nature of the work, the responsibility, the respect the attention to detail and the intrigue. If there was ever someone whose job it is to drum up interest in something as Moreau sounding as a coroner's inquest. It's him I left the meeting hearing some of it. I just walked out of the room and said, oh my God. He thought live streaming the event would be helpful for everyone at home with questions. Number one, the whole purpose of the corner. Danquah? All permanent. The answer to question about eight people the manner and cause of den that's it. The first new development in sometime came last month when a California Superior Court Judge officially pronounced devante dead. Even though his body hasn't been found his whereabouts have remained a huge point of contention for many people who have been following the case closely, but the court filing from the sheriff's department reads, it is more probable than not that. Devante heart is deceased and died along with his siblings, and parents in the vehicle crash almond says he is closing devante case with an asterisk. I'm certainly where a contingent citizens who have a belief that devante was not in the car. Do those and to all the sheriff's office would certainly welcome any information. That would prove our belief. Incorrect. It is our opinion and the jury's opinion that he lived with his family, and unfortunately, he perished with his family. And the inquest made it clear that Jenin Sarah made a deliberate decision to drive off that cliff. They planned it. They work together. It was not a spur of the moment act, but as almond points out for those of us seeking a tidy explanation as to why that will never come. There's one question that nobody will ever answer. And that's why we we can tell you what we can tell you almost when we can tell you certainly where we can tell you who. But as a. As an adult who's brother committed suicide. Many years ago. I've learned sometimes the question, why can never be answered and. We can give people the reason they can find their own answer and say, well, I believe it happened because of an influence. But there's not gonna be any black and white answer to why. From glamour an iheartradio. This is broken hearts. One year later. I'm just in Harman. And I'm Liz Egan. Last week Lauren returned to Mendocino county to attend. The coroner's inquest over the course of two days witnesses ranging from first responders to detectives sat at a wooden desk and shared the brutal facts of the investigation behind them was a whiteboard on which assistance taped diagrams of the site and photos of the family. It was especially hard to look at this Meiling faces of the heart kids as the experts related the grotesque details of what their little bodies endured before. And after the fall, an inquest seats jury this one had fourteen jurors, but it isn't the same as a criminal trial. During an inquest witnesses speak straight to a hearing officer there. No objections or interruptions during recesses in the courtroom. Lauren was able to grab a Cup of coffee or check in with us back in New York on the livestream those brakes were filled with a stock video of a babbling brook. It's a civilized affair almost amusingly. So. Allies d- about the least civilized thing. You can imagine. Here's lauren. I've been to Willits once before that can member I drove through on my way to the heart crash site. I'm gonna smog hung about the town the first sign of the paradise fire that covered northern California Hayes a week. The Justice center is a cream colored stucco building that used to function as a bustling courtroom. But now serves as the police station as Tom and explained it to me role to small town of five thousand people we're in a courtroom that hasn't been used for over twelve years because the the superior court of the state close this courtroom officially so this is not active courtroom wearing in a Justice center. Literally, it has not been used for twelve years. And so we came in here couple of weeks ago, and we looked at it. And we changed a battery of the clock, but up new calendar, and is ready to go the courtroom fits in audience of approximately fifty but nearly half the seats are empty. No, family members adoptive or biological are in attendance. The hearts neighbor. Dana DeKalb told me she'd be watching from home. The inquest is conducted by Matthew Shepard a white haired attorney with nearly four decades of law experience, be Charlotte's diligent in soothing manner. Kept things on track. He typically overseas inquest back in the bay area for deaths that directly involve law enforcement like a police shooting or an inmate dining custody. He's done more than a hundred of these before it all begins. I have questions big ones. I wanna know what investigators heard from the friends and family members who declined to speak with me on the record. I wanna know at what point after fleeing from CPS, Jen, Sarah or both of them together finalize their plan. I want to know whether the kids had antihistamines in their system to treat allergies or if they're moms gave it to them to low them to sleep. I wanna know where Jen got the oklaho- that was inter system. Did she stop somewhere on the side off of highway one? Or did she bring it with her knowing she might need it for what was to come later. Call it closure. Even obsession I want absolute clarity about what happened in those final days. And I thought I just tell the jury how we're going to proceed today and for the record I'm going to initially call some of the first responders. I mentioned the inquest is a step by step presentation of the forensic evidence collected over the course of the past year evidence, the California Highway Patrol says took tens of thousands of hours to compile. The key. Testimony comes from CHP officer, Jake slates much of what slates disclosed on the stand is familiar territory for listeners of this podcast. But there are new details accounts to he says that after the photo of devante hugging. The cop when fireable Jen received harassing emails. These were not invented slates read them himself. Another shocking reveal there was a new witness a camper who says he heard the revving engine of the Yukon and a cry from the bottom of the cliff at three AM, but dismissed it as an animal sound, it's awful. Think someone could have responded sooner. But the inquest Thala gist Dr Greg Pizarro thinks it's unlikely anyone could have survived a fall of that magnitude the deaths he says would have been nearly instantaneous. Slate says when rescue workers told the Yukon back up the cliff jen's body which had been wedged behind the steering wheel fell some sixty feet which made it difficult to identify her at first. Those details are hard to stomach but deep into the second day of the inquest. We've got the answer to a question that has been bugging us for over a year. What role did Sarah Hart play in all of this was she complicit in jen's plan. Louis his wife dead. Sid and Nancy Kurt cobaine. Awesome. Courtney love insane. Johnny cash. Dick, did I turn abusive and XXX ten Tassie own Amy wine house completely off the rails. Disgrace land is a rock and roll true crime podcast about musicians getting away with murder behaving very badly. This hosted by me Jake Brennan, I grew up in round rock and roll. In the one thing, I know to be absolutely true. Is that real Rockstars parties? Sane more like feral, nurses to Ghanimat's than functioning members of society in this is precisely what makes them so damn entertaining to pot biggie Marvin Gaye James Brown. John Lennon, Jeon stones and the hells. Angels running security and a dead hit on the dance. These stories and more are all waiting for you in disgrace. Listen to disgrace Santa the iheartradio app, apple podcasts. Wherever you get your podcasts. Sleeps revealed that he was able to recover Sarah cellphone records from right before the crash. Serve again, asking Google questions such as. Can five hundred milligrams of Benadryl kill hundred twenty pound woman. What over the counter medications can you take to overdose? How can I easily overdose on over-counter medications as death by drowning relatively painless? How long does it take today from hypothermia in water while drowning in a car? What will happen when overdosing with Benadryl? One of the last searches that she did on her phone was while they're traveling through Oregon, and it was a surge that she entered in an requesting Google to identify. No kill shelters for dogs. These questions went on for hours Sarah kept googling from after midnight. The Friday fled until six thirty PM the next evening, and this wasn't a hypothetical at the time of her death. Slates estimated Sarah Hart had ingested forty two doses of an off brand antihistamine both liquid and pill versions of the drug were found in the Yukon the family had stopped to buy the medicine at WalMart before ever leaving Washington. So there it was Sarah was in on it. She wanted to die. She wanted all of them to die too. And she wasn't the only one with shockingly high levels of the drug in her system. Marcus after doing the math would have had to take in nineteen approximately nineteen point two single-dose units. Abigail would have had to take in fourteen those units, and Jeremiah would have had to take in eight point eight single dosage units in order for them to get that level. At that point that the blood is drawn now that doesn't mean that they took that number. They could have been given more. But this at the time of the autopsy when we drew their blood. That's what would have been in their system. Fleet said that Sarah would likely have been extremely intoxicated by the amount of medication. She had taken and the kids would be quote more than likely unconscious or sleeping, Jen. Who was driving didn't have the drug in her system, but had a blood alcohol content of point one or about five drinks, which slate said was especially significant we also know through our investigation and interviews of people that Jennifer never drink either witnesses stated that they never saw her have a drink or they'd say, oh Kasur. They'd see your maybe have a glass of wine, but never finished that wine. So for person to be at that level of an toxic -ation and to have never drank or rarely ever drink. It would be. Extremely difficult for that person to function slates testified that he didn't believe Jenin Sarah knew exactly what they were going to do when they spat out of their Washington home on Friday night. Even when Sarah was googling suicide methods on Saturday. He didn't think they had fully committed to the plan. Here's why on Sunday morning the day before their death. Jen bought groceries at Safeway. Remember, that's where she used her club card for discounts that same day, she picked up eight toothbrushes and deodorant at a nearby dollar tree. We've had a bit of an internal debate. Here. Could this be evidence that they still wanted to live after all who takes these precautions or buys these items when certain death is only a few hours away. On Saturday night. They switched off the vehicles GPS for the first time in nine years, but sleeps thinks Jenin Sarah's decision fully crystallized on Sunday as they drove up and down the coast near Fort Bragg in between stops at beaches, and parks. A wonder I tin ary, they stopped waffling. They drugged the kids. Sara numbed herself with pills and Jen who always called the shots in the relationship finished the job. Ultimately, I feel that based on Sarah Jennifer's past history the pattern that we see of the legend child abuse, and confrontations that they made it received out of the community that this was just another case where they would run one of the final questions. I would ask all my witnesses would be based on the fact and how well, you know, Sarah, Jennifer Hart. Would this be an act that they can do this would they be the type of people that would say if I can't have my children. Nobody can have my children and most of the witnesses either stated, yes, Jennifer would say that. Yes. That would be decision that either both of them would make. Jury only deliberated for an hour. The verdict was swift and unanimous certificates for Jennifer and Sarah Hart. We'll be listed as suicide and the six children who perished on a day their death, certainly as a jury will was determined to be at the hands of other other by accident and their death certificates list. Onsite as a demand of death. Afterward most jurors quickly made their way to their cars, but one Tony Howard state back to talk to reporters for few moments. Honest with you guys coming up with the decision really wasn't the hard part dealing with the toll tragedy was the hard part. There was some discussion. However after some short discussions it was. Just the magnitude of all the children. Hard part for people. It's been nearly four months since we wrap the eighth and final episode of broken hearts since the series launched in December. It's been downloaded over six million times something Liz Lauren, and I didn't expect when we first started thinking about this case with a wide range of the series. Also came comments from our listeners, many of whom experienced the same roller coaster of emotions we did while trying to better understand what happened to the hearts. There was positive feedback about how we viewed the story through an empathetic lens question. How social media can distort the truth and how we were able to reveal the cracks and loopholes in the interstate adoption system. There was also criticism were really the right people to tell the story. Should we have brought our own experiences as mothers into it? And how could we have used the word anti hero to describe jetted? Sarah in the final episode. We've read all the reviews and one point of clarification anti hero. Doesn't mean a sympathetic hero. In fact, it means the opposite. An anti hero is someone who altogether lacks heroic qualities and Jenin Sarah were not Heroux heraldic. While the details revealed at the inquest confirmed the worst of our suspicions. We still believe that trying to see the humanity in even the ugliest stories is the only way to understand why people do the things they do more than anything. We created this podcast not to tell a story perfectly or to solve a crime. But to try to give voice to six children whose own voices were silenced. Their names were Marcus Hanna. Devante Abigail, Jeremiah. And sierra. Through all of our reporting. There were very few recordings or pieces of evidence that could help us fully understand the hell the heart kids endured a few weeks ago. A listener emailed us about her own experience. She says she was one of four black siblings adopted out of foster care by a white family across state lines and her story bears more than a passing resemblance to the hearts. She told us it was hard to listen to this podcast because so many times she thought that could have been me. My mother during the eighties had a crack addiction about twenty years. She had eight children told on a little blurred because I've never been able to get a clear cut story for my office. My. Because of the sensitive nature of her story. We've chosen not to use this listeners name. We were like the granola eaters, if you had a blueprint it was them they were big in Hindu, tree huggers. You know, we've been having processes closer hand me down. My main wild hair, you know, like all make at the lifestyle and was shocking. We're coming of, you know, eating Long John silvers and living in a home with other lack people. So then, of course, start off to be a horrible situation because their intentions in my opinion were good, and we have to be because of the fact you're taking on children that even will have some type of attachment issues emotional issues. They have a slight understanding of the Chiltern that's bringing on. I don't think it's a full understanding of what they're about the take on. She says she and her siblings only took instruction from an older sister. There were trust issues. There were behavioral issues she thinks her adoptive mother became overwhelmed by her lack of control over the kids. She thinks no she knows. There are many more children with his similar story. And she wants them to know, they're not alone. She wants to help lift them out of the despair. She so acutely understands her type of punishment wasn't necessarily that. She would hit us of beat us. You start off doing that? And realize that really wasn't affective for because we came from. We used to get our ask me all the time with from the foster parents, you would really have to do at number to really be moved by violent far punishment dues to starve show bad that we would still from the neighbors brighten up to their home and raise the fares. Moore the mo- chills on the block because we wouldn't Bill. Things we'd break into the home and still CPS got involved if you times, but the warning signs, and there were many warning signs. Didn't sound any alarms. People saw what they wanted to see. Nobody coming out about five children. Are out the closest on have been a new half hour drive. They just felt like you were saying the pot at that. What could possibly Ron? Thank God, the white people wanna take care of black children who are visit to crack have all these issues. Thank on like you should be adopted link group. You know, she has sought long and hard about trying to press charges, but it's complicated. I still have relationships with both of them extra spoke to my dad yesterday has a new partner and really helped him not try to sweep things on the bread. Has been able to kind of give him perspective. As why children so mad at him done. Now have trillion turn allies that's his right there. And with also my mother, you know, there's no way she cannot here and income than none. And that's all. He says she liked to write a book about all of this one day. She has a baby of her own now. And while it's been healing to feel that love it. Also reminds her of what she lived through. Now that I felt like, and I knew it was going to change after you know, I have child 'cause I went always tells you definitely have a child. And now that I do like, I don't understand how you could even looking to face a child in the them not feed them or do anything. What is hard? But I was so afraid I can lose everything loves wonderful and confusing magical and infuriated often in the same day. She just finally said like if you think something's wrong with the baby, you know, what let's just check. And then thirty six hours later, they called me. And they said you have to rush her to the hospital, then I started mildly panicking, and I googled looking for a quiz for is. My husband transgender that's not really his choice. He doesn't really have control over that. But yet he's still chooses to be the partner to me that he is. Because I love you. I'm Joe Piazza join the millions of listeners who've made committed possible and promise you it's cheaper than therapy. Listen the committed on apple podcasts the iheartradio app or wherever you get your podcast. So where do we go from here? There was a woman at the inquest named Mary. She says she never knew the hearts, but the story hits close to home. She up at three of her four kids out of the foster system and knows firsthand how taxing and isolating. It can be to raise children, especially multiple children who have experienced trauma. You know, when you're going through the process out of foster into adoption, you know, there are people in agencies around that can answer questions, and you know, provide some amount of support, but for most families once the adoption papers are signed you are pretty much on your own. And of course, it's it's after that time where a lot of the issues come out from when whatever led to those kids being taken away from the biological families. Whether it was abuse neglect. Drug and alcohol issues, finance that is all gonna come out eventually and sometimes when the kids are younger but very often when their teens, and if you have more than one teen going through all those issues at once can be really extremely challenging. I told a few friends that I was thinking of coming in the all tied to talk fit. Knowing that would be really distressing. But I don't know. I just feel like I need to be a witness to what happens to the tragedy of their family. Mary hopes that if anything comes from the rehashing of the gruesome details of this case, it's reform in the adoption and foster systems. This is not something that would just obviously happened overnight. It's something that happened various places over time. And I mean, I don't know I've never met anyone from the family. But as an adoptive mom, if something's gonna come out of this it shouldn't just be about finger pointing it needs to be about what help and support. Can we give other people who are in these situations where you just feel like you don't know where to go or who to turn to and who can help. And that I mean, if we're going to honor them in any way that to me would be would make the most sense. Sharrif almond hopes this story and the findings from the inquest will show lawmakers how desperately we need a national database for child abuse. After the inquest he held a brief press conference. We have a national database that reports mental illness which prohibits them from having guns with a national database for criminal histories. We also have a national database for gun registration. We do not have national database for child abuse allegations. In the fact that there were five states involved, Texas, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, California, certainly should be a. An enlightening moment for our national legislatures. I'm not going to say that if we had national database that heart family would still be alive. But certainly there would have been more of an investigation and find out if the adoptions had been appropriate in or if CPS should be a little bit more involved in what they were. And then it was all over the livestream shut off. It was time for Lauren to go home. After all was said in done sheriff almonds, circle the puck lot shaking journalists hands as they got into their cars in saying goodbye to investigators. He finally walked over to where I was sitting on a bench and ask why looked so despondent. I had in fact found the last bits of the puzzle shocking. Just the predicted imagining just how awful those last hours were for the kids. And when the hearing officer read the verdict the most closure we'd ever get in. This case I utterly cried silently for a few seconds before collecting myself. I didn't even want to be at an inquest. I wanted to be at a trial with someone there to actually punish someone to take the blame. The heart is a horror story. Yes. But it's more explicitly in American horror story one that could only happen here in one that was aided in a bedded by the culture in which we live, and I'm not just talking about r adoption courts and CBS systems, if we believe Jennifer heart into a lesser extent, Sara Khan, women as friends and neighbors, we've interviewed now understand them to be that it's worth considering this Akon woman doesn't succeed by making up new rules for society. She succeeds by artfully using the rules by playing on our expectations. More often than not Jen found people would trust the explanation of charismatic woman. And yes, white woman more than her black children, friends and neighbors noticed how robotic in thin her kids were, but in the end they trust to Jen more than their own is she also new political correctness would be a shield against unwanted scrutiny. She knew the power of strong narrative on social media. She knew how much people mostly white people wanted to believe images of racial reconciliation, whether it was fawning over. Devante hugging that cop or liking Facebook images of their rainbow family. When I see the gen was good. She was good. One of my early role models for what like non traditional family, look light. Everyone was very envious of them because of how they could pull this off how they can raise these six quote, unquote, developmentally delayed children. There's no part of me and all of my looking magnets capable of seeing that it was just assuring reassume peeper who are our views. Most inner pine it lies, but also in their public lives, and we know this now non to be true. No. Doesn't look like they were normal. Kids didn't really have friends. They were small. So we thought they had been kindergarten. The kids are skinny well. We just not they're eating organic food. When I realized that she was like, there's no way in hell. Those kids are learning. It's impossible with the amount of time. She was devoting to us to our game. That was an issue for her, and you know, being gay. I guess so I just thought, you know, I don't want her to think that I'm being judgmental. I just want to be a good neighbor tunnel. Like most people don't want to get involved. I feel guilty for not realizing that the us were red flag was like God. I totally bought into absolute ethnic races playing apart base. Kids are being used the prop these white lady seaman and safety six black children. Nice work you save. You know, that was the narrative which just. Parents do operate this way in a local did where symbols of racial harmony, and our kids or are evidence of that. As we love kids so much. Heartbreaking the fact that that would be utilized of the way to math some of the abuse neglect. It was happening if it's just deficit urban, and too many people bought in Jenin Sarah Hart got away with what they did. Because there were green lights where there should have been red ones. They weren't criminal masterminds. They just weren't stopped. Kids. Broken hearts is a production of I heart radio and glamour. If you suspect to child is being abused. Call one eight hundred four a child that's one eight hundred numeral four A C H I L D or visit child help dot org to find out how to report your concerns. For access to exclusive photos and videos and documents about the case, visit glamour dot com slash broken hearts have questions for us about this podcast reaches on Twitter at glamour MAG or at broken hearts pot. If you like what you heard leave us a review broken hearts is a joint production between glamour and how stuff works with new episodes dropping every Tuesday broken hearts is co hosted and co written by Justin Harman and Elizabeth Egan and edited by Wendy uncle Lawrence. Miley is our field. Reporter Samantha berry is Glamour's editor in chief. Julie Chen and Deanna buckman head up the business side of this partnership. Joyce Pendle, Pat singer and Luke Zeleski our research team Jason Hoke is executive producer on behalf of how stuff works along with producers, Julian Weller, Ben key, brick and Josh state special. Thanks, jen. Lance. For more podcasts from iheartradio. Visit the iheartradio app apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite shows on the next Ron burgundy podcast. This is actually exciting. You got Mr Peter Dingle. He's Chang's impersonal poetry actually, a lot of people actually find poetry interesting. The sound machine away series thrown of games game of thrones Ron in any surprises. We can expect from Tylenol Lancaster, curious minister. Iheart radio is number one for podcasts. And it's easy to see. Why? Thank the Ron burgundy podcast on the iheartradio app or wherever you get your podcasts.

Coming up next