GERMANTOWN – It is belief, not hope, that keeps Troy Turner searching for his children.
On Sept. 20, dozens of volunteers met at Seneca Valley High School to search for missing Hoggle toddlers Sarah, 3, and Jacob, 2. The children disappeared while in their mother’s care more than two weeks ago.
“There is no hope, it is just belief,” Turner said. “You don’t have to keep belief alive. I believe 100 percent my kids are out there and I’m going to find them… It’s been 12 days now and everyday we’ve been out looking. To me it’s not searches, it’s one big search until we find them. We don’t fall asleep, we pass out. We keep going until we can’t go and we get up again and we go again.”
Volunteers were given yellow bracelets made out of string to symbolize their participation in the search. The searchers, who were described as experienced hikers, ex-military officers and people who were familiar with the area, were sent to knock on doors, distribute flyers and seek out information in areas of Darnestown, Clarksburg, Germantown, Montgomery Village, Gaithersburg, Poolesville and Rockville.
The community also gave monetary and food donations. The Turner/Hoggle family is offering a $20,000 reward for information that leads to the return of the children. They have also launched a website called findsarahfindjacob.com and an official Facebook page: facebook.com/pages/Findjacobandsarah/1470615513220645.
The children’s mother, 27-year-old Catherine Hoggle, was arrested more than a week ago but has not told police where Sarah and Jacob are or what happened to them. Turner said he has not seen or spoken to her since he was allowed to see her during her 15-hour interrogation. Police are not allowing her to have visitors.
Allen Edwards, a former marine, came to aid the search with his dog Shadow. The pair was given access to Sarah and Jacob’s car seats so Shadow could search for their scent.
Edwards said the black German shepherd was excited to help with the search. Along with the search on Route 28, Edwards said he was also looking for areas with circling buzzards and crows as a sign something was dead in the nearby area.
“I had the chance to go play golf today or come out here and do the right thing and this is the right thing. I hope we can just find closure. What would be satisfying and gratifying is if we can find these babies alive and we all can really celebrate,” Edwards said.
Turner said his oldest son is aware his siblings are missing and has asked him if he’s found them.
“He’s a smart kid, so he knows what’s going on. One day he asked me if we found Sarah and Jacob and quite frankly it broke my heart when I had to tell him no but I said ‘Daddy’s going to get them,’” Turner said.
Major Crimes Division Captain Darren Francke said Hoggle may have had similar intentions for the 5-year-old but may not have had the opportunity as Turner took him to school before she could take him.
Turner said he looks forward to hugging the kids when they are found.
“I’m probably going to hug them for three days straight and then I’m going to take them somewhere special,” he said.
On Sept. 7, Hoggle told family members she was taking Jacob to get pizza. When she returned three hours later, she did not have Jacob or pizza with her. Hoggle said Jacob was at a friend’s house and she would pick him up, but police later determined the playmate had not seen Jacob in more than three weeks. The next day, around 5:58 a.m., Hoggle left the house with Sarah. Hoggle later told Turner the children were at daycare, but police said records show Sarah and Jacob were not enrolled in any daycare center. Later that day, Turner and Hoggle decided to have lunch at a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Germantown before reporting the kids’ disappearance to police. Without Turner’s knowledge, Hoggle left the restaurant. Later that day, Turner reported her and the children missing to police.
According to charging documents, Hoggle told police she left the kids with a high school friend named Erin but when pressed for more information, she did not know Erin’s address or telephone number nor did she have any contact with her or the kids since she allegedly gave them to her. Hoggle told police she would call Erin if she could have her cell phone, but when it was given to her by police she said she did not remember her number and began deleting records off the phone. Then Hoggle told police she abandoned the children at a local park. When pressed for further details of the children’s location, Hoggle would only say the children were safe together.
On Sept. 14, police announced they were changing the direction of their investigation to a homicide. Turner said the announcement wasn’t a shock for him.
Hoggle’s attorney, David Felsen, refused to comment on any concern for the missing children or their mother not revealing their locations.
“There are interests in getting things resolved very quickly. It’s very early in the case and we can’t comment on any of that stuff,” Felsen said.
Prosecutors charged Hoggle with two counts of neglect, one count of obstruction of justice and two counts of child abduction. She is being held on a bond of more than $1 million in the Montgomery County Detention Center until a Sept. 30 hearing.
Hoggle, who is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, will undergo a mental health evaluation. According to Turner, Hoggle was admitted to a mental hospital in December 2013 and had been receiving daily treatment for her mental condition. Hoggle’s father said the family suspects Catherine stopped taking her medication weeks before the children went missing. Turner also said Catherine was researching a local organization that believed mentally ill people weren’t sick and giving them medication was a sin.