Updated: February 27, 2021
Two womenbefore intentionally killing the entire family, a special coroner’s jury ruled on Thursday.
A jury of eight women and six men unanimously found that Jennifer and Sarah Hart, both 38, committed suicide and killed all their children, ages 12 to 19, by driving off a California cliff in the Mendocino County on March 26, 2018.
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Before the murder-suicide, check of Sarah Hart’s cellphone revealed Google searches inquiring what dosage of Benadyrl would kill a 120-pound woman, whether drowning would be painful and what common medications could be taken to prompt an overdose, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
When their bodies were found, toxicology reports found large doses of diphenhydramine, the active ingredient in Benadryl, in all of the victims.
The level found in Sarah Hart’s blood indicated she took 42 dosage units prior to the crash.
In addition, toxicology tests revealed that Jennifer Hart, who rarely drank, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.104 at the time, roughly the equivalent of five beers, investigators were told.
And no one inside the SUV was believed to be wearing a seat belt, even though friends said Jennifer Hart regularly acted as a “seat belt Nazi,” often refusing to drive until her entire family buckled up, the Chronicle reported.
“They both decided that this was going to be the end,” California Highway Patrol investigator Jake Slates said. “That if they can’t have their kids, that nobody was going to have those kids.”
The fatal crash was described as the largest mass murder in Mendocino County history, according to Sheriff and Coroner Tom Allman.
It happened just days after authorities in Washington state opened an investigation into the family after allegations surfaced that the children were being neglected.
According to the report, the bodies of three of the children — 19-year-old Markis, as well as Jeremiah and Abigail, both 14 — were found outside the SUV.
A medical examiner ruled Wednesday that both Jennifer and Sarah Hart, as well as Markis, Jeremiah and Abigail, died of broken necks.
“The remains of Ciera, 12, were found weeks after the wreck in the Pacific Ocean, but her body was too decomposed to make a definitive ruling as to how she died. A partial foot found on a Northern California beach has been connected to 16-year-old Hannah, while the remains of the family’s sixth child, Devonte, 15, still have not been found,” The New York Post said.