The unfolding story of Jen and Sarah Hart, both 38, and their six adoptive children has captured national attention, and revealed public and personal lives at odds with one another — a public image of a functioning, modern family and a private history of interactions with Child Protective Services in Minnesota and the Pacific Northwest.
Here’s what’s known about the Hart family’s actions before its deadly plunge last month from a coastal Highway 1 cliff.
May 23, 2005: Sarah Margaret Gengler, then 26, petitions to change her name to Sarah Margaret Hart, taking the surname of her wife Jen Hart. The two met in college at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota.
September 2006: Siblings Markis, Abigail and Hannah are adopted from Colorado County, Texas.
February 2009: Jen and Sarah Hart adopt another set of siblings from southeast Texas, this time from Harris County: Devonte, Jeremiah and Sierra.
Sept. 8, 2009: Markis, Abigail, Jeremiah, Devonte and Hannah are enrolled in Alexandria, Minnesota, public schools, ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade.
Sept. 7, 2010: Cierra Hart joins her siblings as a kindergartener in the public school system.
Nov. 15, 2010: A report is filed with the Alexandria Police Department, in which Abigail Hart, then in first grade, told her teacher and detectives that Jen Hart put her head under cold water, bent her over the bathtub and hit her with a closed fist, resulting in “owies” to her abdomen and back. Abigail Hart told authorities the discipline was because she found a penny at school and had it in her pocket. When authorities interviewed Sarah Hart about the incident, she said it was her that had delivered the punishment, not Jen Hart, and that 6-year-old Abigail Hart likely said it was Jen Hart because she was mad at her.
Dec. 27, 2010: Sarah Hart is charged with domestic assault and malicious punishment of a child.
April 7, 2011: Sarah Hart pleads guilty to assault, and the malicious punishment of a child charge is dropped.
April 14, 2011: Sarah Hart reaches a probation agreement.
April 15, 2011: All six children are pulled from Alexandria Public Schools and placed in a home school setting.
July 18, 2013: Now residents of West Linn, Oregon, the West Linn Police Department files a report involving the Hart family and refers the case to the Oregon Department of Human Services, which handles child protective services cases. Details of what that report includes are not publicly available.
Nov. 25, 2014: A photograph of Devonte Hart, then 12, hugging a white police officer at a Portland protest, tears streaming down his face, goes viral.
March 20, 2016: The family is photographed onstage at a campaign rally for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in Vancouver, Washington.
May 5, 2017: The Hart family buys a home in Woodland, Washington. Friends say the move was a result of unwanted media attention after the photo of Devonte Hart went viral.
March 23, 2018: A social worker for the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services attempts to make contact with the family, after a neighbor files a complaint alleging the children were potential victims of abuse or neglect.
March 24, 2018: Cellphone pings indicate the family was in the area of Newport, Oregon about 8:05 a.m.
March 24, 2018: The Harts reach Fort Bragg about 8 p.m.
March 25, 2018: A man is believed to have spotted the Hart family at a knick-knack shop along the highway near Fort Bragg, about 20 miles south of their eventual crash site. Authorities believe they left Fort Bragg at 9 p.m.