Mur­der charges for Md. mother

Fa­ther says he now be­lieves she killed them

The Washington Post - - METRO - BY DAN MORSE

For three years, Troy Turner held out hope his chil­dren were alive — a be­lief he knew ran counter to logic.

Ja­cob, 2, and Sarah, 3, hadn’t been seen since they dis­ap­peared from Mont­gomery County in Septem­ber 2014. The last per­son known to be with them — their mother and Turner’s then­girl­friend, Catherine Hog­gle — suf­fered from deep men­tal ill­ness. De­tec­tives quickly viewed her as re­spon­si­ble for the chil­dren’s deaths.

“There has al­ways been a faint hope,” Turner said Friday. “And I know now, with the pas­sage of time, that Catherine killed my ba­bies.”

Turner spoke to re­porters af­ter a hear­ing in Mont­gomery County Cir­cuit Court, a pro­ceed­ing prompted by an in­dict­ment the day be­fore charg­ing Hog­gle, 30, with two counts of mur­der. Those charges con­firmed re­peated in­di­ca­tions from po­lice and pros­e­cu­tors dur­ing the lon­grun­ning case of the chil­dren’s fate.

“I know that they are right,” Turner said. “And I fully sup­port the charges.”

Since 2014, Hog­gle has been locked in a state psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tal, held on mis­de­meanor charges of ne­glect, ab­duc­tion and hin­der­ing in con­nec­tion with Ja­cob and Sarah’s dis­ap­pear­ances. Doc­tors have said she is not men­tally fit to par­tic­i­pate in a trial.

The mur­der charges prompted a re­view of her bond con­di­tions, and on Thurs­day, Hog­gle was driven by law en­force­ment from the max­i­mum-se­cu­rity Clifton T. Perkins Hos­pi­tal Cen­ter, in Jes­sup, Md., to the Mont-

gomery County De­ten­tion Cen­ter in Rockville. For Friday’s hear­ing, she ap­peared via a video feed from the jail. She said lit­tle and stared blankly from the screen into the court­room.

Her at­tor­ney, David Felsen, and the county’s lead pros­e­cu­tor, John McCarthy, agreed that Hog­gle should be sent back to Perkins for fur­ther eval­u­a­tion and treat­ment.

“They’re try­ing to look for that cock­tail of med­i­ca­tions that will cre­ate syn­thetic com­pe­tency, so that we can move for­ward on these mat­ters,” McCarthy said.

“There is no ques­tion that she be­longs in a hos­pi­tal,” Felsen said af­ter the hear­ing and also said Hog­gle de­serves a vig­or­ous de­fense. “We’re not aware of any ev­i­dence link­ing Ms. Hog­gle with any homi­cide.”

A for­mer wait­ress with an IQ once tested at 135, Hog­gle has re­fused to tell de­tec­tives and fam­ily mem­bers what might have hap­pened to Ja­cob and Sarah. It is dif­fi­cult to say when, or if, she would be found well enough to go to trial.

Hog­gle’s mother, Lind­sey Hog­gle, also at­tended the court hear­ing Friday.

Af­ter, she said she be­lieves that her two grand­chil­dren are still alive and that her daugh­ter worked with oth­ers un­der a plan to flee the area with her chil­dren.

“I don’t think she’s guilty of mur­der,” Lind­sey Hog­gle said.

She has not been able to visit her daugh­ter at Perkins, she said, be­cause Catherine Hog­gle has not put her on a vis­i­tor list. Lind­sey Hog­gle said she last spoke to her daugh­ter by phone dur­ing a six-month stretch in 2016.

“This needs to be re­solved,” Lind­sey Hog­gle re­called telling her, adding that when she asked about the chil­dren, Catherine would say sim­ply: “They’re safe.”

The case of the Hog­gle chil­dren burst into the open in the fall of 2014, when Mont­gomery po­lice of­fi­cials held a news con­fer­ence ask­ing for the pub­lic’s help in a har­row­ing hunt they’d just started: Three peo­ple were miss­ing, a mother and her two young chil­dren. At the time, Turner was des­per­ately try­ing to find all three.

Sev­eral days later, po­lice spot­ted Hog­gle walk­ing alone down a street in Ger­man­town. She tried to run but was quickly taken into cus­tody. Hog­gle wouldn’t tell po­lice where the chil­dren were, ac­cord­ing to ar­rest records. She was charged with the mis­de­meanor counts, placed in the county jail, and later trans­ferred to Perkins. Once she was hos­pi­tal­ized, the le­gal case against her slowed.

Pros­e­cu­tors also weren’t in a hurry, given that they prob­a­bly would face the chal­lenge of prov­ing a mur­der case with ab­sent bod­ies. Ex­perts on such “no­body” mur­der tri­als say the more time that passes with­out the vic­tims be­ing found alive, the eas­ier it can be for pros­e­cu­tors to con­vince a jury that the vic­tims must have been killed.

The mur­der charges Thurs­day against Hog­gle were prompted by a loom­ing le­gal dead­line. Her orig­i­nal mis­de­meanor charges car­ried a three-year limit on how long some­one can be held while des­ig­nated as men­tally un­fit for trial, McCarthy said.

The new charges — much more se­ri­ous felonies — mean Hog­gle can be held for an ad­di­tional five years while be­ing des­ig­nated men­tally in­com­pe­tent, ac­cord­ing to McCarthy. He said he hoped that with the right treat­ment and med­i­ca­tion, Hog­gle could be re­stored to com­pe­tency and taken to trial on the mur­der counts.

“There has al­ways been a faint hope. And I know now, with the pas­sage of time, that Catherine killed my ba­bies.” Troy Turner, the fa­ther of Ja­cob and Sarah Hog­gle

FAM­ILY PHOTO

Ja­cob and Sarah Hog­gle dis­ap­peared in Mont­gomery County in Septem­ber 2014.

Catherine Hog­gle

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