From producers Chris Kobin, Rachel Morgan and 1091 Media comes the story of secrets, deceptions and horror with A THREAD OF DECEIT: The Hart Family Tragedy.
In March of 2018, a story broke about an accident that claimed the lives of an entire family. Jen and Sarah Hart were an educated married couple both majoring in special education. In their years together, they adopted six children. Abigail, Hannah Jean and Markis were adopted in 2006 from Texas and in 2008 the Hart’s adopted Devonte, Ciera, Jeremiah after their biological mother couldn’t take care of the children.
It would be Devonte Hart, at the age of 12, who would capture national attention with the infamous photograph of the young boy giving a policeman ‘the hug felt around the world’ during a Ferguson protest. The family photographs taken by Jen and put on social media gave the idea that this was a loving family who did everything together in the name of family.
Friends came to know the Hart family and saw them also as a fun family but was that the truth? Photos show everyone what could be not necessarily what is. It is only through following Jen and Sarah’s life was it found that there were allegations of child abuse beginning in Minnesota in 2008 and again in 2010. When a pattern emerged, Jen took it upon herself to homeschool the children.
Moving to Oregon in 2013, another investigation was taking place. Jen tries to convince the authorities that the allegations were put against them by people who didn’t believe a lesbian couple should raise African-American children. Moving again to Washington in 2017, neighbors of the couple were surprised one night when Hannah ran to their door out of fear and again when Devonte asked them for food.
The neighbors contacted Children Protective Services and what happened next would be the most shocking ending to an already shocking story.
A THREAD OF DECEIT: The Hart Family Tragedy is an all too familiar story of what goes on behind closed doors. Although Jen and Sarah put on an outward façade of their life with six children, that almost perfect façade prevented the truth from being seen.
As a mother and grandmother, it is heartbreaking to hear this story. No one wants to ever believe that it is possible even though we all know, deep down, that it is absolutely possible. All one has to do is turn on the evening news and there is a story of children being exploited by those are purported to love them.
In Devonte’s case it is even more of a heart pain knowing that he was such a loving young man. While this documentary is going through its paces, I recognized the photograph they were speaking about and was once again jaw dropped to know it was Devonte Hart. To also know that this young man did what he could to protect his siblings (adopted or biological) is a testament to what could have been for him.
My only big question mark that still lingers over my head is that it seems that everything was being pointed straight as Jen. Where was Sarah in all of this? Grandma taught me that it takes two to tango, yet she seems to have gotten away scott-free from this documentary. Just something I noticed.
Other interviews include Sharyn Babbitt, Scott Barber, Nusheen Bakhtiar, Octavio Choi, Don Corey, Adolfo Cuellar, Dontay Davis, Nathaniel Davis, Dana Dekalb, Krista Herring, Shonda Jones, Zipporah Lomax, Brittini New, Amanda Price, Jennifer Price, Tammy Scheurich, Riannah Weaver and Christopher Worth.
A THREAD OF DECEIT: The Hart Family Tragedy is so difficult to watch at times. It is a deep sadness that runs through ever frame of the film because all of it was something that could have been prevented. Of course, fingers can be pointed all over the place (and they are and should be), but what eventually happened falls straight into the laps of Jen and Sarah Hart.
One very important lesson this documentary teaches us is that we are all responsible for one another. If we shout the alarm and nothing is done, we shout louder and if that doesn’t work – social media always seems to do the trick. Not the social media of what we want the world to look like, but the social media that calls to arms everyone who believes in saving those who cannot save themselves.
If we are truly all in this together, then something like this should never, ever happen again. We have no excuses.