How did it come to this for the Hart family? I am so shaken and sickened over this story. At points, I feel anger too.
I am angered at the thought of the foster care system being co-opted and corrupted for abuse, neglect, and ultimately a shocking end to young, innocent lives.
Broken Harts is a new podcast offering that is taking a fine-toothed, investigative comb to the death of 5 family members when their van sped rapidly off of a cliff and plunged into waters in Mendocino, California.
The police quickly ruled this tragic event a criminal act committed by the mother driving the van. The parents, who were a well-off, professional, white lesbian couple were both in the front seats. Their children, who were adopted, were two sets of three African American siblings. In the passenger seats that day were three out of the six kids.
The other three kids who were not in the van are still unaccounted for at the part of the story this highly compelling podcast series has unveiled for us so far.
Picture Perfect Family
From so many personal accounts and from the false veneer of social site posts, the Harts were the picture-perfect illustration of the non-traditional family. They were the American dream, on face value.
They were engaged in their community. They were active in progressive political campaigns and took part in music and art festivals that espoused the values of growth and spirituality.
Where did this all go wrong and how in the hell did it get there? I have to get some sort of understanding of this.
As a father to a young son my heart aches at the thought of these young lives entrapped in misery and met with an untimely fate. As a parent, I am also chilled to the bone at the thought of the human mind misfiring so horribly wrong that one could ever slam their foot on the gas pedal of a van and launch their loved ones into a harrowing free fall towards guaranteed death.
The Red Flags
Like most shocking stories of violence and murder, as investigators begin to peel back the onion of the perpetrator's lives, people slowly start to come forward sharing signs and red flags that now in hindsight begin to point to troubles that may have required a much more thorough heeding in real time.
Stories of neglect and abuse have arisen. Stories of one partner domineering the other and dependency to a fault within their marriage have surfaced. None of these stories in isolation would necessarily be a direct predictor of the fatal event at the cliff but taken as a whole they absolutely painted a troubling picture that required more intervention from the authorities.
There are times when some stories in this world are almost too painful and catastrophic to bear. We feel we might be better off sticking our head in the sand and waiting for it to go away. But, we have to gain some sort of understanding here.
As parents, as a community, and as a society we must get to some level of explanation on how this seemingly perfect family of hope and progress turned into despair and horror.
There is also another element of this story that is being exposed alongside the tragic hidden lives this family was living and that is the facade of social networks and the disingenuous connections we are fostering and maintaining on those outlets.
There are moments during the series when the hosts read actual lines from Facebook posts from one of the Hart mothers and it truly makes me cringe, knowing what we now know and are learning about this family.
One of those posts was published moments before their van plunged off the cliff with comments of love and joy parading onto the post for hours on end, unbeknownst to the Facebook friends, after the mothers and three children had died.
Entire personas and scenarios of familial perfection can be easily crafted online. Our own connections with community and individuals can be lulled into a deep false sense of purpose and strength when in fact we are barely tethered to the surface of relationships at most, if not even engaging with outright fabrication and lies.
A Must-Listen Podcast
The team at Glamour are doing the commendable work needed to try and gain the understanding we so desperately need from this story. They are also packaging up and delivering their findings to all of us through the platform of this must-listen podcast series.