Los Angeles (AFP) – Police believe a mysterious car crash that left a couple and three of their adopted children dead and another three children missing may have been intentional.
The vehicle owned by two married women, Sarah and Jennifer Hart, was found at the bottom of a cliff in California’s Mendocino County on March 26.
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) said the GMC Yukon appears to have stopped near the edge of the cliff at a roadside rest stop.
It then accelerated off the edge and fell some 100 feet (30 meters) down onto rocks in the Pacific Ocean below, where it was found partially submerged.
No skid marks were found and the speedometer of the vehicle was “pinned” at 90 miles per hour (145 kilometers per hour), according to police.
“A statement regarding the speedometer reading of 90 mph prior to the collision does not mean the vehicle was traveling at 90 mph,” the CHP said.
“The speedometer reading could have been affected by the impact, affected by an electrical charge, or could have been unintentionally manipulated during recovery efforts.”
The bodies of Sarah and Jennifer Hart, both 38, and three of their adopted children — Markis, 19, Jeremiah, 14, and Abigail, 14 — were recovered.
Their other three children — Hannah, 16, Devonte, 15, and Sierra, 12 — are missing and feared dead.
A photograph of Devonte hugging a police officer at a protest against police violence went viral in 2014.
Police said a preliminary investigation indicates that the crash was intentional.
“At this point in our investigation, that is the direction we are going,” said Greg Baarts of the CHP.
According to KPTV, police have obtained a search warrant for the Hart home in Woodland, Washington state.
Neighbors told the FOX 12 TV station they had recently contacted Child Protective Services after one of the Hart children turned up at their door begging for food.
According to the station, the Department of Social and Health Services had opened an investigation into “alleged abuse or neglect” of the children.