The death of the entire Hart family has finally been ruled a crime. Investigators held off as long as they could before finally having to admit the mounting evidence suggests the SUV was intentionally driven off a cliff with their six children inside. Now, a former friend of the family, Alexandra Argyropoulos, says she reported abuse to Oregon child welfare officials in 2013 but authorities failed to intervene.
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Alexandra Argyropoulos said she told child welfare officials that the Hart parents had been depriving their kids of food as a punishment. In a statement, Argyropoulos said she "witnessed what I felt to be controlling emotional abuse and cruel punishment. My heart is completely broken. The current system failed to protect these children from their abusers," she explained.
Argyropoulos also said after reporting her concerns in 2013, she was told the Hart children had been interviewed by Oregon child welfare officials. The Oregon officials said it was clear the children had all been coached by their mothers on what to say and Oregon Department of Human Services did nothing.
When the two Hart women found out Argyropoulos went to the authorities, they broke off contact with her. Sarah Hart was convicted in April 2011 of physically abusing one of her daughters who was then less than 6-years-old. Somehow, she was allowed to continue to abuse the children and immediately upon resolution of the court case she pulled all six of their adopted children out of public school.
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"The leave date indicates all six children left prior to the end of the school year for a homeschool setting," Jill Johnson said, a spokeswoman for the school district. Last year, shortly after the family moved to Woodland, Washington, neighbors said Hannah Hart appeared at their home and asked for protection from abuse.
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<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">Johnny Nguyen</span>
Devonte Hart, a young boy whose photo went viral when he hugged a white police officer, was frequently begging neighbors for food saying his parents withheld it as punishment. The requests escalated in frequency prompting them to contact authorities and report the abuse.
When Washington State Department of Social and Health Services attempted to contact the Hart family starting March 23, they were unable to find the Harts. Three days later, a passerby would report seeing the Hart's SUV upside beneath a 100-foot cliff.
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