The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

New-Age Cult Connection Emerges in Lesbian Couple’s Mystery Suicide Plunge

Posted on | April 5, 2018 | 1 Comment


Jennifer and Sarah Hart, the lesbian couple who adopted six children and drove off a cliff in an apparent family suicide last month, had connections to a New Age spirituality cult, according to multiple sources.

The Harts regularly attended the Beloved Festival in Oregon, which involves former followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (“Osho”), a notorious guru who was recently the subject of a Netflix documentary series. A March 30 message on the festival’s Facebook page called the Harts “extraordinary members of our community, our family,” and posted photos of the Harts and their children at the annual festival.


Public questions about the Harts’ association with the New Age scene in Portland, Oregon, have intensified as police continue investigating why the couple apparently drove their SUV off a 100-foot oceanside cliff in northern California, killing themselves and at least three of the black children they had adopted from Texas:

The Mendocino County Sheriff’s office on Thursday said that, contrary to numerous previous statements, neither Jennifer Hart, who was driving the SUV, nor Sarah Hart was wearing a seatbelt when the vehicle crashed off the California coast last month.
Investigators have said since soon after the crash that both women were buckled in but the children weren’t when the car went over the 100-foot cliff.
“Information released … by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office incorrectly stated that Jennifer Hart and Sarah Hart were wearing a seat-belt during the incident,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release. “Investigators from the California Highway Patrol … determined Jennifer Hart and Sarah Hart were not wearing seat-belts during the incident.”
That detail could prove important as investigators work to determine whether the crash, which killed both women and three of their adopted children, was an accident or an intentional act. A search continues for their other three adopted children, who remain missing but are thought to have been in the vehicle.
On Wednesday night, however, Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman, whose agency is heading up the investigation into the crash, said in the most definitive terms to date that he believes the crash was intentional.
“I’m to the point where I’m no longer calling this an accident, I’m calling it a crime,” he told HLN’s Ashleigh Banfield.

The Harts had been repeatedly investigated for child abuse. In 2011, Sarah Hart pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic assault in Minnesota after one of the girls told a teacher she was beaten at home. Not long after that, the Harts relocated to Oregon, where a friend reported them for child abuse in 2013. After that, the Harts moved to Washington State, where they were again the subject of a child abuse complaint last month. Days after that complaint, the couple died when police say Jennifer Hart deliberately drove their GMC Yukon off the California cliff; all six children were believed to be in the vehicle at the time of the deadly crash, but three are still missing, presumably washed out to sea.

The Hart family’s SUV plunged off an oceanside cliff in California.

Details of the New Age connection to the Hart family were highlighted by journalist Kristin Rawls in a long Twitter thread about the case. Rawls was critical of the mainstream media coverage:

Even though police have now admitted this was intentional, every article still includes a comment from some acquaintance suggesting the parents were “heroes” who “turned those kids’ lives around.” This is so insulting to the children.

Rawls took note of a 2013 video from the Beloved Festival in which Devonte Hart, who carried a “Free Hugs” sign during the family’s travels, went onstage to hug popular New Age musician Xavier Rudd. Devonte became briefly famous in 2014 when a photo of him hugging a police officer at a “Black Lives Matter” rally in Portland went viral.

Portland-based photographer Zippy Lomax first met the Harts at the Beloved Festival, and was quoted in news coverage of their deaths:

“I was in awe of them. I think that I speak for a lot of people. I was inspired by them. They gave me hope,” said Lomax.
She snapped dozens of photos of the family about five years ago at the Beloved Festival in Oregon where she met them. Through Lomax’s lens, the Harts were a model family.
“There was no question as to how completely loved and adored those children were,” said Lomax. “We all have lost something because I don’t think there are a lot of examples of families like that, and of kids like that who were so selfless.”
All six children were adopted by Jennifer, 39, and Sarah Hart, 39. Friends in the community know them as the Hart Tribe. They recently moved to Woodland, Washington, where neighbors say there were possible signs of abuse and neglect.
“None of that computes. I’ll tell you, none of that lines up with the people that we all knew,” said Lomax. “Jen and Sarah, I think, were the parents that this world desperately needs.”

Kristin Rawls remarked that several people quoted by media defending the Hart family were connected to the Beloved Festival:

But it turns out that the Harts were involved with a New Age cult in Oregon led by followers of Rajneesh/Osho (he of the Wild Wild Country docuseries on Netflix). Those defending the Harts in the media are also members.
Names of group members who have defended this family to the media include Max Ribner (a musician with Nahko and Medicine for the People), Kristina Pescatore and Elijah Parker. They seem to be involved with Beloved Festival and something called OneDoorLand.

Among those Rawls connected to the Beloved Festival is the popular New Age musician Deva Premal, who met her husband in Rajneesh’s cult.

In the days immediately following the March 26 discovery of the fatal crash in California, mainstream media quoted praise for the Harts from their acquaintances without mentioning their New Age associations. For example, a March 30 Washington Post story:

Samantha Sinclair, a Portland trauma nurse who has known the family since 2014, described their home as one of joy, filled with books, music and healthful food.
“Their story is not about abuse,” she said. “It is a story of triumph and love.” . . .
“Jen and Sarah were providing a hilarious, joyful life for these kids,” Sinclair said. “They were what gave me hope for the future.”

The Post article neglected to mention that Sinclair practices pagan shamanism, “soul retrieval and power animal rediscovery.”

Pagan shaman Samantha Sinclair.

The Hart family had been involved in the New Age music scene in Minnesota, which is where they met Max Ribner in 2012:

Family friend Max Ribner, a Portland musician who plays in the band Nahko and Medicine for the People, said the Harts were amazing parents.
“They’d nursed those six kids back to life,” he said. “These children were coming from some of the roughest childhoods you could imagine.”
Ribner said he first met the family in 2012 when playing the Shangri-La music festival in Clarks Grove, Minnesota. He said he remembered the Hart children because they had dressed in matching outfits and were as close to the stage as possible. The family, he said, always traveled as a pack.
Ribner said that Sarah Hart first came out to Portland around 2012 to look for a job and to see if the area would be a good fit for their family. They’d been living Alexandria, Minnesota, a small town of 13,000 northwest of Minneapolis.
She found a job at Kohl’s. Jennifer and the kids joined her sometime in 2013, he said.
“I think there was an openness of community out here that gave them some breathing room from the challenges they had in Minnesota.”

Crime Online reporter Ellen Killoran interviewed one member of the New Age “tribe” in Minnesota who knew the Hart family well:

“If you had asked me two weeks ago I would have just ranted and raved and told you how wonderful and perfect they are,” said Arlain Ingeldew, who knew the Harts as fellow members of a community she described as a group of hundreds of people drawn together by music, who attended the same festivals. Arlain said that she would often camp alongside the Hart family at Harmony Park, an outdoor event venue next to Lake Geneva in southern Minnesota.
CrimeOnline has reached out to several people believed to be part of this so-called community, of which little is known, and only Arlain agreed to speak.
“The festivals we go to are all about the music and art and loving nature and loving each other,” she said. “And harmony.” . . .
“They were just a blessing. It’s unbelievable what happened here,” she said. “So many of us are flabbergasted.”
Arlain said . . . she frequently spent time with them at these musical gatherings and never saw anything that concerned her. She said the children seemed happy and well cared-for, and were always well behaved. She stayed in touch with the family on social media after they moved from Minnesota, where she lives.
“I would say [Jennifer and Sarah] were equal partners, madly in love, in love with life, in love with the children,” Arlain said.
“They were just idolized for being the perfect family.”

Unfortunately, this “perfect family” drove off a cliff in California. Now, according to Kristin Rawls, New Age cultists are “involved in an active misinformation campaign to salvage the reputations of their ;community’ and Jennifer and Sarah Hart.”





One Response to “New-Age Cult Connection Emerges in Lesbian Couple’s Mystery Suicide Plunge”

  1. The #BlackLivesMatter Angle in Lesbian Couple’s Murder-Suicide Mystery : The Other McCain
    April 7th, 2018 @ 5:31 am

    […] are many mysteries involved in the Hart family saga, including the influence of the New Age “community” to which they apparently belonged. Could it be that a neopagan spirituality movement — perhaps connected to the Rajneeshee cult […]