"The Perfect People"
The most serial killers don't make any effort to involve media or best Gators. They're very secretive. They don't want attention. They almost want their crimes to go unnoticed, but the idea of committing a crime, and then calling up the police and bragging about it. That's a whole 'nother level of terror. A man who wore a mediaeval style executioner's hood who has baffled the police and baffled the media. He seems to crave publicity. He sent letters and Ramsden newspapers. And the beliefs subject stated, I want to report a murder. No, a double murder. I did it. Here. We are fifty years to the first sodium killing in today's world of forensics old cases are being solved who doesn't wanna know. How it turns out? From the creators of Atlanta monster come season two. This is monster vizo yet killer. Listen as subscribe at apple podcasts or on the iheartradio app. What can you really tell about someone from a picture can you determine their ethnic background, whether they're introverted or extroverted. Can you tell if they're genuinely happy or just playing the part what if you zoom in or out, can you infer things like wealth or religion from the furniture or personal objects in the background? What about a tight shot of a presidential hopeful on the campaign trail, what kind of crowd would you wanna symbol around? You to communicate that you're the other guy the progressive anti-establishment choice, and who could say those things for you simply by being at your side. Now, you see this little bird was no it. I think. I think the baby some symbolism here. I know it doesn't look like it. But that bird is really a dove Ascii goes for world peace. That's Bernie Sanders at a two thousand sixteen rally in Portland, Oregon. You may remember this moment he's going on about the merits of public education. When a tiny Finch lands on his podium in the heart of the Pacific northwest. It's a moment straight out of the show, Portland. Lia irony and serendipity all wrapped into one Sanders. Takes one look at the bird and raises his fists like a magician who just conjured a rabbit from a hat. It was a whole thing. The Sanders campaign started selling birdie Sanders merch of the more than eleven thousand attendees who is stationed directly behind Sanders. Jen. Sarah, Marcus, devante Abigail, Jeremiah and Sierra heart there. They are on a Friday morning in March jumping up and down in matching Royal blue Bernie t shirts, I saw them in there. They're right in the. Direct at on. This is Mark Levin. He worked Bernie's director of scheduling and advance work during his twenty sixteen presidential campaign. He even helped create and popularized Sanders a future to believe in branding efforts. He remembers the bird moment. Well, I mean. Jeez. Besley plans, right? You know, we we have no way of planning for that sort of thing. I mean that was that was actually a level of serendipity that my entire time working in scheduling advance. I'd I don't think I'd ever encountered. It was said half jokingly at the time. But you know, there was some sense in which he had sort of performed a miracle or whatever I mean, this is this is what people were saying online. And this wasn't the first time the heart tribe had gotten near the Senator earlier that same week Jen roused her family at four thirty in the morning to attend a rally in Vancouver, Washington. She wrote on Facebook that she had the kids stand for four hours in the rain to ensure they wouldn't miss out on this opportunity. She even made the blue shirts herself family. Fringe new sheen. Bahktiar says members of the Sanders campaign approached the family and invited them to attend the Portland rally. Here's Lauren talking to new sheen about that day. They went to the Washington rally in there. It was Bernie's campaign people that sort of gave them them to come to the Oregon one. Yeah. And they asked them, and they put them they like wanted them fit right mind him. That video of Bernie Sanders putting a bird on it with the Hart family squarely in the shot. It's been viewed over two point three million times on YouTube order, the reason that you, you know, want to craft that shot behind the candidate very carefully is because and has happened with Obama on a handful of occasions. The the people in that shot functionally share in with the candidate. From glamour and how stuff works. This is broken hearts. I'm Justin Harman, and I'm Liz Egan crazy things like this moments of infamy seemingly random or unsolicited brushes with fame like that viral photo of devante crying and hugging the cop. They were nothing new to the Hart family yet, despite the relentless fascination from the outside world friends like Ian, Sperling marveled at jen's ability to protect your children from prying eyes are field reporter, Lauren chatted with Ian over the phone back in may. Inspir- lane is a dad who often met up with the heart said shows around Portland gen would tell him that the kids were developmentally delayed from their terrible lives before they were adopted and Yoon bought it. So that was why the kids acted a little differently. Maybe that's why devante smiled all the time in seemed to act a little younger than his age. Or why Marcus Jeremiah would look listless and suddenly snap into smiles? And personality when he greeted them gentle. So explain why the kids were so thin. They headed vegetarian organic diet. She always had an answer for everything. I mean when I see the gentlest good. She was good. And she made parenting. Look, unbelievably, easy, and awesome. And there was no red flex zero. Like the way she respected. Devante privacy. When he was the picture with the cop and the way, she would talk to us about that stuff in private, you know, take we looked up to her like, wow, she's the best parent in the world. We're horrible. You know, kind of thing can often wrote about the importance of protecting her kids privacy. Once when a Facebook follower asked if she'd ever considered a reality TV show. She said, no we've had multiple offers in this area. She wrote no amount of money would ever be worth the trials and tribulations that would surely come from media slash producers. Manipulating our lives on TV show. Ian remembers hearing about the offers. She was extremely stressed know what to do is get any offers from like good Morning America or the today show specifically and a few others to take him on there. And she declined to do that. Now that plays into what we're learning now. Because obviously, we learn now that there was some abuse charges in Minnesota, or you know, fleeing to Oregon for lack of a better term. And so there's probably more of a reason why she didn't want to go on national TV. At the time. We're thinking wow phenomenal parenting. Nice work. You're not exploiting your children perfect. That's just adds more to the legacy. You know? Listen, I've talked about this part of the story a lot how could one family one seemingly interested in maintaining a low profile and living off the grid consistently. Find itself in the news. How often really do people become famous like viral famous by accident? Mark Levin says from his experience not that often with respect to getting back in behind Bernie at the early rally. I would say that if they had seen the process at the rally they'd been to a few days earlier that would have given them a hint that most people otherwise don't have as to how to do it. So that, you know, most people when they arrive at these rallies is their first rally or they're only rally or whatever it's not that common to have people go to these rallies twice in part because are pretty onerous affairs. You wait for a long time for the candidates, and that sort of thing so you don't get a hold of repeat customers. But if these are repeat customers, they could've very Yoon seen how. The selection process goes for getting people in that shot in the head on shot. So be honest. What does a photo of two moms and six black kids say to you, depending on how you were raised your background and your life experiences. It could mean any number of things for zippy Lomax who first encountered the heart tribe back in two thousand thirteen the family was the perfect visual symbol for the kind of transformational inclusive music festival. She attended and often photographed we're very unique. And I know I'm not the only person who could who was just sort of a natural term that would kinda come out when you'd see them showing up at places like there's a there's a hard time eleven is just one of many many that have this very similar kind of. The goal of like, you know, like experimental community different ways of coming together and being supportive rather than competitive. As a talker. Sippy observed these festivals could serve as a form of emotional. Release attendees often dressed up in costumes with hundreds of people standing on a lawn rocking and swaying to the music footage from the events. Look more like emotionally raw group therapy than raucous jam sessions in the video posted to jen's YouTube page, devante Jeremiah or at the two thousand twelve project or festival in Minnesota. The boys both under ten at the time have flowers around their necks. Devante is wearing his free hugs side. They're both dancing. And around the forty five second Mark, you hear jen's voice you going to give nocco hug. Jeremiah runs up to jen's favourite musician nocco bear who is dancing shirtless in the crowd the to embrace for a few seconds while Abigail Sierra and Hannah dance nearby was Sarah. It's one of the rare moments you get a glimpse behind the curtain. Some might see it as proof that Jen coerced the kids into performing for the camera. But if anything seemed off when the family was in public onlookers like, Ian, Sperling didn't notice. Superhuman people like they're living the perfect life. Perfect. People have perfect kid. The case of the hearts is tragic. But it certainly not the first story of this nature. If you're interested in exploring more cases, like this one we think you should check out another podcast crime junkie named one of the best true crime podcast of two thousand eighteen by Rolling Stone. They've done cases on Chris. Watts Scott Peterson Christian long and many more crime chunky covers a different story every Monday and with over eleven thousand five star reviews. We know you won't be disappointed. Listen and subscribe to crime junkie wherever you get your podcasts. Just search crime J U N K I E to get your true crime fix. Zippy noticed their infallibility to she started a friendship with Jen. One mostly maintained over Facebook messenger. And frequently took pictures of the family all of these events are opportunities for people to kind of reinvent themselves experiment with what it would be like to to be to show up in a different kind of way. So it's hard to say because people are. Maybe not showing up at those events in the same kind of wearing the same persona or even the same kind of clothes that they would wear and just everyday life between shows the festival crowd kept tabs on one another on Facebook. Where gen racked up the likes her feed was full of well staged family photos and long form captions opposed from January twenty nine two thousand sixteen show silhouettes of three of the heart children at sunset. The location is Malala river state park in Clackamas county, Oregon it reads him sitting in the mud watching the sunset. Do you ever think society over complicates life? There's so much business technology obsession and worrying about crossing things off a to do list while forgetting what it's like to be her be what him alive. This desk for life and Jen seemingly endless Aw for her. Children is something friends of the hearts loved about her. In fact, she is often described as the more gregarious and social of the two women, John, and I were closer. She's also an amazing photographer. So we had another point of connection there and mutual respect I guess for each other's craft. But we were friends on Facebook in we interacted in that way. And so I think that like in this age of social media. It's interesting because we feel like we're more engaged with people than maybe we actually are. I've I was very much engaged like commenting interacting with John in the only amazing photo. She was posting about the kids. Definitely kind of aware of what was happening in their lives. The last time zippy saw the Hart family in person was at that same Bernie Sanders rally in Portland where the bird landed on the podium. She was there once again to take pictures zippy, Reynoso Facebook message Jensen after that memorable day so shoe somehow she was watching me instead of Bernie Sanders watching you work, your magic, the lens was so special senior just made that much more magical. She saw me capture that bird moment. Cada glimpse of capturing the beyond amazing moment. I love you. She just said it made her heart. This moment genuinely made my heart explode in the best possible way. This is how John Hart spoke on her Facebook page, a feat of countless posts that span from two thousand seven a year before she in Sarut Dopp did their second set of biological siblings. Up until March twenty second two thousand eighteen four days before the crash. She was a few sive and passionate about everything from her children to her wife to the many animals, the family rescued and rehabilitated in a post from June twenty six two thousand thirteen she wrote in what reads like something from children's book of a red, Robin and BB Blackbird she discovered in her yard, the young black bird hopped onto my knee and proceeded to look me in the eye and go back and forth between me and nuzzling the BB, Robin. It was beyond clear that he was trying to communicate a message I lightly stroked the back of the Robin's neck and checked for injuries. This has been my deeply. Connected purpose for as long as I can remember take care of all beings in need like so many of her posts, it feels just a little too good to be true along with the post is an image of Jenn wearing a grey graphic t- and cuffed jeans, several beaded bracelets lightning. Her wrist clutching, a small bird between her palms. She added an inspirational quote from an obscure science fiction author named Lloyd big old junior. Life is life's greatest gift guard the life of another creature as you would your own. It was the kind of slightly mythological story. Ian, Sperling new well. I think she was a master Facebook coaster likes. I've never seen. Anyone articulate so well with photos, my wife said something that made sense like after everything's done. She says there's not even paying on the paintbrush. You know? And and that was you know, like a Facebook pictured. And you know, when you're like, whoa. What? So it was like stage like a photo, maybe 'cause they're they're sitting in front of a canvas paintings with the kids are doing today, and they gonna paintbrush and there's no paint on it. Now. Dan at you as a mom, or whatever you like, oh shoot. We did that we didn't get any pictures. Hey, you guys. Let's go have a picture real quick. You know, what have you been at the scene team in hindsight? That's probably a little bit of the case. You know, it was almost too good to be true tells one story about how the heart children befriended a homeless man and his version has almost the same hyperbolic language. Jen us in April two thousand thirteen post. There was a gentleman who was an in. If I told you this already, I apologize. They were she took her kids down to the Clackamas river one night, and they're playing around with a hot sunny summer day, and they're playing around down there, swimming and devante to the other kids walked it on the way to what looked like a homeless, man. And Jen in her the way, she told it was I didn't know what to do. If actually let my kids talk to this homeless person who looks extremely disheveled and a bit suspect, but she's taught her kids to not be afraid of strangers proceed with caution. But to spread love in this world. And they went down talk to this guy, blah, blah, blah. Then she saw them hugging this guy. Okay. And the kids walked back, and she's like what was in Alabama. And they're like, oh, we just wanted to Brighton. This guy's day. You know, of course, beautiful kids. They and that's this is exaggerating of how they would be. 'cause I wanted plenty. And then the guy walks down to Janney goes these your kids. I assume and and she said, yeah, I think he says, well, I gotta tell you. They just changed my whole life. And she goes, oh how soon that hunt? I got from him. I don't get that from anybody here. See the problem is I faced cancer and half of my face is gone. So look really scary and terminal, and he goes, I don't have any hope I look like a homeless person. He goes, I I'm not I have a whole I have money. I just look scary. And I've just completely depressed about the end of my life. And your kids just took all of that aside Saami for goyim inside and gave me a huge hug. He goes that meant the world to me, I can die a peaceful person. You know, something along those lines. This is Jen telling us the story. So now, do you take it as a grain of salt or what? But I've watched the kids do this do people. So it didn't surprise us when you know. You know, people say necessity is the mother of invention. But that's not always true. Sometimes the mother of invention is advertising. Yeah. Or pure accident. How about ego maniacal delusion? Absolutely. Or just a desperate longing. To be cool. I'm Robert Lamm. And I'm Joe McCormick. Near the host of the science podcasts stuff to blow your mind. And now we're branching off into the exploration of invention. Invention is the story of human history told one piece of technology at a time the things we made and how they made us invention publishes every Monday, listen and subscribe to invention on apple podcasts the iheartradio app or wherever you find your podcasts. The last time. Ian saw the hearts was in November two thousand seventeen four months before the crash at an nocco in medicine for the people concert in Portland in a quiet moment Sperling told Sarah that she seemed worn down. She said, I'm just so tired. He hugged her said. He was sorry. She had to put in so many hours at work to support the family of eight and Sarah answered thanks. I don't hear that very often. So I think she was definitely a fan Daryl like following these bands like nocco Trevor hall Xavier read some of these bands, and like getting to know them. And this was her backstage passes kids, you know, and the look on Sarah's phase every time was cool under taking along. I gotta work in a few hours. And that was it was here constantly that night at the nocco concert last November Ian noticed that Sarah took most of the kids home after soundcheck while devante state on with Jen through the concert. This was the only time he noticed anything remotely strained anything other than synchronicity in the relationship. And it wasn't even like they were fighting so much was just tired. She wanted to go home. She took the kids gin. Devante state dance tonight away, and then left, and so that was it, you know, and we just like, oh, cool. They're normal to say the gen was the fan girl while Sarah was the adult with a job would be an over simplification. But Sarah did work a lot. She was an assistant manager at the coals in Hazel Dell Washington where she put in long hours, sometimes six days a week her colleague, Cheryl heart, the one who requested a welfare check the same day. They were found dead. Remember Sarah is super professional on the sales floor, but relaxed in chatty in the back office. One thing about Sara's. She was most definitely a talker. It was always a bit hard with you got caught up in a conversation with her because she would just rattle on sometimes and Sarah would often talk about her home life with Jen and the kids she would definitely talk about her family one thing. I would notice. Oh, is she would never should never mention like the kids names through is just, you know, say the kids or you know, like the girls are the boys. I mean when she first came on with. Us. She let everybody know right off the back that her family was. The family with the hug heard round the world, basically the hug had gone viral in. I didn't know anything about it. So I actually had to look it up. And I was just like, oh, okay. That was very cool. And you know, she said that it wasn't cool it caused a lot of stress in her family. And and it had really changed her wife and not for the good that Jen had come really closed in and really depressed and just it had just changed for a mentally, but Cheryl, a mother of two herself. Understood the pressures of co managing a household as a new mom, especially with so many kids. She would talk about how the the stressor out. I have two kids myself. So I mean, obviously to kids versus six kids, it's different. But you know, we were you know. Parents times where it's like, you know, my two girls are like oh my gosh. My kids are insane. You know, and she would say the same thing. Like, oh, yeah. When I get home, you know, I have to take over and deal with the kids because you know, jen's had him all day, you know, when I get home. I gotta deal with them. Tensions plagued the family, according to newly released e mails made public in October two thousand eighteen in the months following the adoption of devante, Jeremiah and Sierra, they're days appear to be a chaotic jumble of post office, runs paperwork, and dentist appointments, six dentist appointments Sarah wrote to gen in April two thousand nine I will take my lunch hour from one to to help out with the kids during that time waiting there. Sorry, I made such a mess of everything that same spring, Sarah tried to get pregnant with donated sperm and later suffered a miscarriage Jen wrote in July two thousand nine to an administrator at the agency that facilitated the adoptions. I don't know what else to say. Really now just take it one day at a time true to form if there was anything stressing the family overwhelming schedules infertility or mental health issues, even racists dockers, you would never know it from jen's Facebook, but back in June of two thousand seventeen gentle family friend, new sheen bacter- that someone had left obsessing racist notes in their mailbox. The first time new she Bahktiar countered. The Hart family was at an event she and put on called Portland for the Philippines in twenty thirteen. It was a concert series for charity hosted in new Sheen's dad's place, a Mediterranean restaurant called blue olive. She noticed that all the heart. Kids were sitting at a table and head incredible posture new sheen had janitor phone is J e Dublin because she says Jen dropped F bombs all the time. Jen was her favorite four letter word. Let's first show was at my dad's. It was all ages and they brought Jenin therre both came and they brought all six of their children. And at first they were sitting at a table right in front of the stage, and they were just eating food, and they were super polite, and they were all sitting really like with just the best posture that I had ever seen like kids have. And then to feel like all the kids have that great posture crap. So that actually I think what I commented on how I started talking to Jen, and Sarah and then. Yeah. I was like oh my God. What is up with your kids? How are they? So well behaved and she's like, oh, you don't know. That's just because there's not a dancefloor. That's how it happened. So we moved the table. And we we moved their table. They're done eating we made a dance lar. And now it's like my first connection with the children. We spent the rest of the night, you know, dancing and having fun and all those pictures a lot of those pictures are literally from the first night, and like we're all holding each other. And there was just like this really great connection. I've always thought that that's because. Other people tell me it's because I'm a person of color, but I always forget that I'm a person of color. So like people who are young who are like that who are POC's need other POC is to look up to. But I never I always forget, I didn't even know what PSE meant until somebody applied for job last year. And the only pay saying European I'm appeal could get along. And I was like what that's not how that works. We're all just humans new. She remembers the good times they had into the collective effervescence. She experienced when the family was altogether. She even talks about Jenin, Sarah like they're still alive. Jon loves Sarah to insane degree, and she always has. And she says the most beautiful things about have you seen jen's Facebook. In fact, even though gen would text new sheen about her growing about being stalked harassed and threatened on social media about the Trump election or the never ending recessed bigoted. Doc from that photo of devante at the rally. She was convinced the family was adjusting well to life in Washington. The last year of my friendship with John was pretty much me reaching out. We talked. Confided in me, but me reaching out asking her to come around asking her if I can come up there her stunning photos and videos of upgrades of the house, and then they were happy. They actually were really really happy. I thought when it comes down to it, isn't that the weirdest part of social media, aren't we all guilty of looking at a picture of a smiling person and just taking it at face value. Who among us hasn't looked at someone? We don't know all that. Well in thought damn those people are pretty perfect. You may remember a similar story Madison. Hollarin' the U Penn track store who jumped off a parking garage in two thousand fifteen and who sunny Instagram feed didn't betray her own struggle with mental illness much like what happened there new sheen believes these social media platforms come with deadly side effects. I think if it were not for social media that they'd still be alive. Absolutely one thousand percent. I just feel like because of that second persona. You know what I mean? I feel like if that second persona wasn't there. And she didn't dedicate so much time to focusing only on the good and only being comfortable in only being you know, only being vulnerable when it came to the good and not just learning to be vulnerable than than she could actually sought help. In her experiences in life would have been more real and meaningful. I don't think social media's a real or meaningful thing, I think it can bring about real and meaningful change. But I also think that when we're lying to ourselves. And then we are posting that lie about ourselves that we want to believe, and then we're getting this fake aid bag of of you know, acceptance and all this type of stuff than than were were literally causing harm. We were crushed by this idea. So we invited Dr Amy service a psychologist for the online therapy site talk space to discuss the psychological effects of social media. She says the medium can trick. Viewer into thinking they have more information than they actually do that sort of two dimensional or even one dimensional flat. Perception of what's going out. There are going on with somebody's somebody's life. And so you might that sort of lack of compassion or even curiosity because you already know it's like a full complete picture out there if they are then revealing that this is what's going on. We might not really be invested to reach out to care to connect. Because those pictures tell a different story one of the things that really stuck out to me is that when they're quote unquote, friends that they saw an interacted with were interviewed. They kind of were like, maybe we didn't know them as well. And I think that begs the question what were their interactions like were they not sustained, and why weren't they sustained where they rely on social media as opposed to picking up the phone or continuing a more in-depth relationship, but we become lazy, and we kind of rely. Like, oh, just catch up with them because they'll see these posts on Facebook as opposed to a real conversation, and those are sort of question and bigger concept of relationships in how we sustain them in the meaningfulness of relationships that really stuck out that that really wasn't present. For them zippy refers to the process of looking at pictures and only seeing what we want to see as confirmation bias. You might remember that term from psych one. Oh, one here's zippy. We had our own confirmation bias that. We were looking at them through the lens of compassionate understanding who we thought we knew them to be an of love and care. And of course, can you blame us for not being so quick to to believe that are these people we loved and cared about were capable of something like this. We were looking at them with a lot more willingness to imagine that this was a horrible accident. And so the the details look, very different all of us. Ultimately the. Ability to suss out the truth about who are friends really were. And the inability to see pastor own confirmation bias is wise. It got off Facebook so much of my. Engagement with John in particular was via Facebook. So I only saw what was represented there. But it it. Basically corroborated what I experienced when I witnessed them in person. So there was like there was nothing about the way that that Jen was presenting their life that seemed at all at odds with with my understanding of who they were a different police now than she was when she knew the hearts she's gotten to a point where she can picture Jen doing something like this. I'm imagining Jen having a moment of just feeling like. She'd kind of dug herself into some homeless. She would never be able to get out of that. I mean, I just feel like I can see her having kind of a moment of desperation imagining Sarah being maybe sleeping, maybe other kids being asleep to and her driving and her just like. You know, they only this is the only answer end. They're never gonna leave us alone. And the only answer the only way I can protect them or the only answer is to to to the awful thing. I'm gonna drive off the cliff. No matter what happened in the moments leading up to that crash back in March sippy thinks at the core of this tragedy. Is Jen a woman who had reached her breaking point? I feel like one of the things that has been totally. There has been no acknowledgement here as this is somebody who is desperate enough to kill herself. And to take the lives of all the people she cared about in the same breath. And what I wanna know is what? Led to that. What happened to John next time on broken hearts when you say specifically cured me. It was like is. He knew runaway. I saw Jennifer scolding. She went inside and left him standing out Ray. Wow. The Rockwall down. That's what we said. They're run. They're gone. And it was just like, oh God, I totally bought into. And I was just like. Just kill me. So I finally got the okay to call it. I made the call. And then here I sit. Broken hearts will be off next Tuesday, which is Christmas day. But look for a new episode on January first 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 glamorous editor in chief. Julie Chen and Deanna buckman head up the business side of this partnership. Joyce Pendle, Pat singer and Luke Celeski 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. Hi, I'm Ariel Casten. And I'm Jonathan Strickland and together we're going to tell you the stories behind some of the biggest triumphs and failures and business. That's right. We're going to explore situations that tested the medal of entrepreneurs pivotal moments required. Making tough decisions. We'll be talking about some big companies that everybody knows like Disney LEGO and Harley Davidson and together we try to answer the question. What do you do when you find yourself at the brink? Listen in subscribe at apple podcasts or on the iheartradio app or wherever you listen to your podcasts.