Still struggling to piece together the Hart case

I am really having a hard time coming up with a decent summary of the Hart case. There’s a whole lot to unpack, even more so since the inquest, which is on YouTube in two parts, each lasting six hours.

There’s the crash itself: the car’s computer showing how it happened, how Jen had deliberately driven off the cliff, the location and identification of all the bodies (except Devonte of course), the fact that everyone except Jen had taken horrific amounts of Benadryl, Sarah’s internet searches showing she was in on it, etc.

And then there’s the background, the two adoptions, the various accounts of abuse and deprivation, the long term starvation of the children, the fact that the Hart women were able to adopt the second sibling group of kids WHILE CHILD ABUSE CHARGES AGAINST THEM WERE PENDING for beating the crap out of one of the kids they’d already adopted, the moves, the festivals, the homeschooling, Devonte’s viral photo in 2016, etc.

It’s such an incredible mess.

This will take awhile.

That wretched Hart case

The Charley Project does not discriminate: if you’re have not physically turned up alive or dead, you’re missing for the purposes of this database, even if everyone knows perfectly well what happened to you.

Which brings me to the godawful case of the Hart family, of whom one of them, Devonte, has never been located. His sister’s foot washed ashore months ago, but not a tiny bit of Devonte has turned up, not so much as a single vertebra. I had been desperately hoping they’d find some of Devonte before the year was up so I would not have to start digging into this. I might as well be digging a grave.

And with a case as high profile as this, I feel obligated to put him up. Even though we all know, basically, what happened to Devonte and where he is — swallowed up in the Pacific.

And with a case as high profile as this, I feel obligated to do a detailed write-up. It’s just that there’s so much to look over (high profile ya know) and it’s all so absolutely and unrelentingly horrifying. I’ve been reading about the case for the past twelve hours and I feel the way I did when I visited Treblinka.

Even the photos of the kids. So many photos. And they’re so SKINNY. Knobby chins and cheekbones, their faces like skulls, stick arms and legs. And so SMALL. They were starved of food and love for so long, and under so much stress.

The inquest into the family’s deaths will be held next week. It will take two days, will be live-streamed, and is said to be releasing some shocking information, as if what is already known was not shocking enough already.

Those poor, poor children.

Got quite a big update dump yesterday

A Charley Project Irregular let me know about how the San Francisco Examiner had been added to the Newspapers.com archives, so I went and ran all my old San Francisco cases through to see if they had articles in that paper. Then when that was done, I decided to do with the same with Santa Cruz cases, because I knew the Santa Cruz Sentinel was in the archives. And presto, 29 cases updated.

Some thoughts/info on individual ones:

  • I wonder if Erwin Ernest Bunge‘s car was ever recovered. I also wonder if his disappearance had anything to do with him being a high profile trainer. Henry Martinez was only seventeen years old in 1988 and it seems unlikely that he could have been involved. I wasn’t able to find out much about him; he retired from boxing in 1994 and drifted into obscurity.
  • Not really a thought, but a piece of trivia: Harry Weldon Kees is not the only person presumed to have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge on July 18, 1955. The police found TWO cars abandoned there that day, leading to speculation as to which person went first. At the time, they were keeping a record of how many people died. I don’t think they’re keeping track anymore though. (Oh, and here’s a 2011 rant of mine about Golden Gate Bridge suicide victims.)
  • I looked up Walter Christopher Kuchanny‘s wife, and she has remarried and seems to be doing well. She returned to England after his disappearance. I do believe he was a suicide victim and didn’t just leave. Her description of his behavior, being all anxious and depressed and then suddenly happy and relaxed, is pretty typical of people who take their lives.
  • Is anyone else wondering if Michael Omas Masaoay‘s disappearance was just an accident? I wonder if it went something like this: he sets off for the day, realizes school is actually closed, and then decides to chill out at his favorite fishing spot, and then gets dragged out to sea by surf, just like Noel Annette Marcotte and countless others have been. That would explain why Michael’s bag was found where it was. Will anyone who’s familiar with the geography of that location care to voice an opinion in the comments?
  • The SF Examiner article I found about John Dolan Phillips‘s disappearance was mainly about the sale of his car and how it was very sketchy. His family was never notified the car had been found in the parking garage. The mint-condition rare classic car was sold to an employee of the garage for just $200, a tiny fraction of both its actual worth AND the amount of accrued parking fees owed. Apparently when objects worth over $500 are put for sale in these circumstances, the public is supposed to be notified and given a chance to buy them, but the car was sold for an a lower amount, so the garage didn’t have to notify anyone. And then the new owner refused to even let the car get inspected for clues. Whether any of this has something to do with Phillips’s disappearance is anyone’s guess.
  • Given the circumstances of Carlos Benjamin Urruela‘s disappearance, it’s likely he died by suicide. The article I read said his addiction was very bad — he’d gone from snorting to freebasing to shooting cocaine — and was ruining his life and his appearance.

MP of the week: Amelia Antonio

This week’s featured missing person is Amelia Jose Antonio, a sixteen-year-old girl. On June 4, 2009, she returned home to Godwin, North Carolina after running away to Florida… only to run away again that same day. She hasn’t been seen or heard from since, and would be 26 years old today.

Black History Month: Irwin Stewart

In honor of Black History Month I’m profiling one African-American MP every day on this blog for the month of February. Today’s case is Irwin Yafeth Stewart, a one-and-a-half-year-old boy who was abducted by his non-custodial mother, Elvia Bravo Ibarra, from Houston, Texas on November 30, 2002. Irwin is biracial; his mother is Hispanic and his father is black.

Elvia and Irwin may still be in the Houston area, or they may have gone to Mexico. Iwin would be 17 years old today.

More on Randi Boothe-Wilson

This article has some more on the disappearance and identification of Randi Stacey Boothe-Wilson, which I blogged about the other day. Included in the article is a color photo of Boothe-Wilson. It looks like she was light-skinned and had straight hair, which might explain why the body, when it was found, was thought to be a white woman.

They got the DNA sample from “a stamp from a letter purportedly sent by Boothe-Wilson.” That’s clever. Sometimes investigators have to get creative. I read about another article today that was accomplished by fingerprints, and they got the prints, not from an arrest or military record, but from a pawnshop. When you pawn something you have to give a fingerprint.

(The stamp thing wouldn’t work for me. I loathe the taste of them and I buy stamps with sticky backs, or I use a wet sponge to dampen them.)

So it looks like Randi really did send that goodbye letter. It says the cause and manner of death is unknown, as of course is how she made her way to North Carolina. Such a strange case.

Black History Month: Nicole Cearo

In honor of Black History Month I’m profiling one African-American MP every day on this blog for the month of February. Today’s case is Nicole Sherese Cearo, a 20-year-old pregnant woman who disappeared from Seattle, Washington on March 30, 2009.

Nicole’s disappearance was the subject of excellent, in-depth coverage by the podcast Under the Redline, and various people close to the case were interviewed. Unfortunately, as far as I can determine, the Under the Redline podcast is no longer extant. (Which is a shame; it was really good.) But I was able to get most of their information onto Nicole’s page.

This is one of those cases where it is manifestly obvious what happened, and well-known in the community, it’s just that the police don’t think they have enough evidence to prosecute the suspect. I am sorry for it; Nicole deserves justice.