Jennifer and Sarah Hart drugged their kids before driving off California cliff

A family of eight who plunged to their deaths last year when their SUV went over a California cliff died in a murder-suicide a coroner’s jury determined Thursday

A family of eight who plunged to their deaths last year when their SUV went over a California cliff died in a murder-suicide a coroner’s jury determined Thursday

Authorities have called the deaths intentional, but want a jury to decide.

The 15-year-old adopted child of Sarah and Jennifer Hart, who made national news after he was photographed tearfully hugging a police officer during a 2014 protest over the failed indictment of the cop who killed Mike Brown, died in a fatal vehicle crash that was ruled a murder-suicide by a coroner's jury Thursday (April 4), reports the Associated Press.

Presenting the findings from two days of testimony, Mendocino County Sheriff- Coroner Thomas Allman told reporters that he would accept the jury's ruling.

A coroner's inquest has heard that the children who were killed by their two mothers past year in California had drugs in their systems.

The remains of two of the other children, aged 12 to 19, were found later, and the remains of one child, 15-year-old Devonte Hart, have still not been recovered, though he has been declared legally dead, Mendocino Sheriff-Coroner Tom Allman told PEOPLE. A human foot found on a beach by a hiker's dog was later determined to be that of 16-year-old Hannah Hart.

The Hart family had fled their Woodland, Washington, home March 23 after a visit from social workers that day.

The bodies of the women were found in the vehicle, which landed upside down below a cliff more than 160 miles north of San Francisco.

"Howard said the jury reached a unanimous verdict quickly after hearing thorough testimony from investigators of the family's plunge off a California cliff".

Authorities who testified on the second day of the inquest said that in their opinions, the crash was deliberate.

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"They both decided that this was going to be the end", California Highway Patrol investigator Jake Slates said. They made a decision at some point on their drive along the coast, he posited: "If they can't have their kids, then nobody was going to have their kids".

An investigator says that soon before her wife drove their family off a cliff, Sarah Hart researched whether it was relatively painless to die by drowning.

"I wasn't able to identify Jennifer Hart due to her fall", Julian said.

This new insight into the crash and the subsequent recovery of the Hart family's bodies was part of the evidence presented during the coroner's inquest on Wednesday.

A witness who was camping near where the vehicle drove off the cliff, along California's Highway 1, said he heard sounds of a auto revving up and accelerating early in the morning on March 26, according to OPB.

Investigators found the that the couple had been accused of child abuse several times, and that days before the crash officials in Washington state had opened an investigation after Devonte rang a neighbours' doorbell and said his parents were withholding food.

"They both decided that this was going to be the end", Slates said.

Slates said these searches on Sarah's phone happened when the vehicle was in motion, after the family left their home in Woodland, Wash.

In 2010, Sarah Hart admitted to harming her daughter Abigail and was convicted of misdemeanour domestic assault. OR child welfare officials also investigated the couple in 2013, but closed the case without taking any action.

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