If a total stranger looked at your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts, what would they see? The exhausted rants of an overworked office drone? Worry over the current state of society and politics? A carefree, fun life that, from the outside looking in, appears perfect? Would your answer change if you could curate not only your perception online but in real life as well?
Rachel Morgan and Chris Kobin navigate these tricky questions while unraveling a web of artifice, lies, abuse, disbelief, and murder in the excellent, though heartbreaking, documentary A Thread Of Deceit: The Hart Family Tragedy. The Harts were parents Jennifer (“mom”) and Sarah, and their adopted children 19-year-old Markis, Hannah, who was 16, 15-year-old Devonte, the two 14-year-old Abigail and Jeremiah, and Sierra, who was 12. By all accounts, they seemed to live a happy life.
“…Jen was quite controlling and had been abusing the children for years.”
They would go to marches and rallies together, play in the woods together, go sledding and build a snowman when the inclement weather, and if you didn’t know any better, you would think the Harts were as close as a modern-day Brady Bunch as possible. But, of course, not everything is how it seems. The cracks begin to show when it is revealed that Jen did not want a lot of people looking into her family. For example, their neighbors in Washington state hardly saw the six children playing outside, which they found odd. But, Jen still posted videos and pictures of the family on vacation or doing this or that activity on her various social media accounts. What little interactions people did have with them was pleasant and fun.
This is why in March of 2018, it came as a considerable shock to friends and neighbors when they found out that the entire Hart clan died when their SUV plummeted off the side of a cliff. During the investigation, the police declare that this was not an accident. Friends of the Harts would soon discover the horrible truth: that Jen was quite controlling and had been abusing the children for years.
In fact, she and Sarah had child protective services open investigations on them in both Minnesota and Oregon. Both times they packed up and left those states instead of proving they were innocent. When all this came to light, those devastated friends wound up losing other friends, as those folks needed not to be associated with them anymore. Interviewees include Krista Herring, Zipporah Lomax, Don Corey, Tammy Scheurich, Christopher Worth, Nusheen Bakhtiar, Scott Barber, and Sharyn Babbitt, among others.
"…curate not only your perception online but in real life..."