It’s hard not to feel like the worst kind of voyeur as you start to watch this documentary knowing it has the most violent stomach-churning ending. Hopefully it will throw some light on it all.
This is the real-life story of two lesbian mothers who in a suspected murder-suicide drove their car off a cliff on the Pacific Coast Highway and into the ocean more than 100 feet below. Inside the car were their 6 adopted children who died instantly, although one of the bodies was never recovered.
This new documentary Thread of Deceit: The Hart Family Tragedy, from producers Chris Kobin and Rachel Morgan seeks to find out answers about why these two women could and would have resorted to taking such an action.
Delving back into the pasts of Jennifer Jean Hart and her wife Susan the filmmakers uncovered a whole history of them abusing children. Each time they were censored by the Child Protection Services they simply packed up and moved homes. At the time of their deaths The Washington State Department of Health and Human Services had identified the Hart children as “potential victims of alleged abuse or neglect.” However because of the way CPS is structured there was no-way for them to link up with previous cases in other States which would have sounded very loud warning bells.
How and why the women got the children in the first place is still not perfectly clear, but the fact is that they had been taken away from their birth mothers because they had been considered at risk.
Friends remarked that if you followed the family on Social Media you got the impression that they were perfect, as every single photograph and video was staged as if they were entering a Best Family Competition. However the reality was from that according to neighbors who were awaken at 3 am by one of the girls totally petrified and begging to stay. Sarah and Jennifer made the girl write a note next day to apologise to the neighbor and say it had all been a misunderstanding.
However it wasn’t long after that one of the older boys turned up at the same neighbor’s house begging for food, as he had not been fed for days. This became such a regular occurence that she actually took the boy with her when she went grocery shopping. This led her to finally making an official complaint, and the visit of CPS soon after seems to have triggered Sarah & Jennifer to packing up the car and leaving.
Later the authorities managed to track their convoluted route from their house in Washington to Mendocino County and they came to the assumption that maybe driving over the cliff had not been their initial idea. But they did stop at a Convenience Store and buy sufficient Benadryl. to knock all the kids and Sarah totally out. Jennifer’s body showed she she was tanked up with alcohol.
The filmmakers spent considerable time in what happened next. There was such an outpouring of vitriol on SM not just aimed at the two women but also all their friends and neighbors and the Authorities at large. Most of it was vile with people with very little compassion and human decency who took advantage of the US not having a Hate Speech Law. Co -director Morgan said that it was in fact what motivated her to make the documentary and have chance to tell the story ,without a motive aside from peeling away the layers of something that was unfathomable
Nobody in the women’s immediate circles even knew of their history of child abuse, so could not really throw any light on what on earth could be so very unbearable that would lead them to take such action.
In this excellent documentary the Filmmakers strove to tell the tragic story without a hint of bias, which is something we found hard to maintain watching it all unfold.
P.S. Markis was 19 years old, Abigail 14. Jeremiah 14, Hannah 16, Siera 12 and Devonte 15.
A Thread of Deceit is streaming on Amazon Prime, ITunes and VUDU