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CA cliff crash: Family home searched

Posted at 2:44 AM, Mar 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-30 02:44:26-04

WOODLAND, WA (KOIN/CNN) – Authorities are looking for answers regarding the family whose vehicle went off a California cliff.

Three of the children are still missing.

But as the investigation continues, it seems there may have been abuse within the household.

"What happened there versus what happened when they went out into the public was a whole different face," neighbor Dana Dekalb said.

Dana and Bruce Dekalb lived next to the Harts for 10 months, but it was a week ago that they decided something had to be done and called Child Protective Services.

"They portray this happy little family,” Dana Dekalb said. “Well, they obviously had separate lives."

The Dekalbs said Jennifer and Sarah Hart kept their six foster children inside at almost all times, so much so that for three months the neighbors didn’t even know the Harts had children – until one night, when they met Hannah, the youngest daughter.

"One-thirty in the morning, the doorbell’s ringing, and I answer the door and she was standing out there in a blanket," Bruce Dekalb said.

The neighbors said the young girl described an abusive home.

"Their daughter is telling us, ‘Please, please, please,” begging us not to make her go back, and that they were abusing her," Dana Dekalb said.

The final straw for the Dekalbs was a week ago, when 15-year-old Devonte had been asking them for food, saying he was being starved.

The Harts’ reputation for seeking privacy began before Woodland. In West Lynn, neighbor Bill Groner said he often felt bad for the children because they were almost always kept indoors.

“Very private – they kept to themselves,” Groner said.

And the blinds remain shut at the Harts’ Woodland home, as investigators search for documents like phone records or bank statements that might tell them where the family was headed before they drove off the cliff.

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