Baarts said the electronic information combined with the lack of skid marks or signs the driver braked led authorities to believe the crash was purposeful. "We do have reason to believe. the crash was intentional". Emergency responders found the bodies of three of their six children - Markis, 19, and Jeremiah and Abigail, both 14 - outside the vehicle, which landed upside down on the rocky shoreline below the cliff.
CHP told KATU that the search for the missing children has become a "recovery effort".
"The murkiness of the water makes it very hard for anything to be seen", he said. Killed are the two mothers, Jennifer Jean Hart and Sarah Margaret Hart, both 38, and at least three of their adopted children.
Authorities say the speedometer in Jennifer and Sara Hart's vehicle was "pinned" at 90 miles per hour before it plunged off a cliff and crashed into the ocean below, killing the couple and three of their adoptive children.
An image of Devonte Hart garnered national attention in 2014 when a photographer snapped a photo of him hugging a police officer with tears streaming down his face during a protest in Portland, Oregon, over the police killing of Michael Brown.
The bodies of their three other children, Hannah 16, Devonte 15 and Sierra 12, were not recovered as of early Monday, but officials believed all the children, who were black, were in the vehicle along with their parents.
Two weeks ago, Bruce and Dana DeKalb, next-door neighbors of the Harts in Woodland, Wash., called state Child Protective Services because Devonte had been coming over to their house nearly every day for a week, asking for food. Then 12, the boy held a sign reading "free hugs", as he tearfully hugged a police officer.
Authorities were not certain when the wreck took place; the vehicle was discovered by a motorist a week ago. But Sheriff Tom Allman said there is "every indication" all 6 children were inside the SUV at the time.
Before the Harts moved to Washington, they had lived in Minnesota, where Sarah Hart pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic assault involving one of the children in 2010, according to court records from Douglas County. The Department of Social and Health Services had no prior history with the family, said Norah West, an agency spokeswoman.
Investigators are still trying to determine what caused an SUV carrying a family of eight to plunge off a California cliff.
"There have been red flags", he said, adding "To the best of my knowledge, there was not a suicide note found at the residence". Baarts said on the front of the search warrant, a box was checked that asked if a felony was committed.
DeKalb said that he had called Child Protective Services March 23 and they had arrived at the house just after Jennifer Hart came home from work but that she didn't answer the door.
Meanwhile, those who knew the Harts described them as inspiring and devoted parents who had been unfairly subjected to criticisms and assumptions about their motives for adopting the children.