3 years after kids vanish, Md. mother wants her charges dropped

Prosecutors have not disclosed evidence of harm in the murder trial of Catherine Hoggle, who's charged with killing her children Jacob and Sarah. This is an age-progressed composite from 2016. (Courtesy Find Sarah and Jacob)
Age-progressed photos of Jacob and Sarah Hoggle, show how they might have appeared in 2016.
(Courtesy FindSarahFindJacob)
Catherine Hoggle (Courtesy Montgomery County Police)
Catherine Hoggle is the last known person to see 3-year-old Sarah and 2-year-old Jacob Hoggle. (Courtesy Montgomery County Police)
Troy Turner, the father of Sarah and Jacob who disappeared in September 2014, speaks to reporters after a court hearing on Feb. 22, 2016. Turner says the children's mother Catherine Hoggle is aware of her legal situation and claims she has said her lawyer instructed her to remain incompetent. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Troy Turner, the father of Sarah and Jacob, speaks to reporters after a court hearing on Feb. 22, 2016. Turner says the children’s mother Catherine Hoggle is aware of her legal situation and claims she has said her lawyer instructed her to remain incompetent. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Jacob Hoggle, left, and Sarah Hoggle, right, were last seen in September 2014. Catherine Hoggle, center, has been charged in their deaths. (WTOP/File)
Jacob Hoggle, left, and Sarah Hoggle, right, were last seen in September 2014. So far, their mother, Catherine Hoggle, center, has been found incompetent to stand trial. (WTOP/File)
hogglereward_kry.jpg
2014: Troy Turner, right, and the grandmother of his children Lindsey Hoggle, far left, gather with a local nonprofit, Victim’s Rights Foundation, to announce the creation of a reward fund to help locate Jacob and Sarah Hoggle, who disappeared Sept. 7. Police believe the children’s mother, Catherine Hoggle, can tell them where to find the children. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Hoggle kids search (WTOP/Jamie Forzato)
So far, mother Catherine Hoggle has refused to say where her children are. Her sister Carly Hoggle, who was manning a table at the staging area, told WTOP in 2014 that her sister is “much more than mental illness.”
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Prosecutors have not disclosed evidence of harm in the murder trial of Catherine Hoggle, who's charged with killing her children Jacob and Sarah. This is an age-progressed composite from 2016. (Courtesy Find Sarah and Jacob)
Catherine Hoggle (Courtesy Montgomery County Police)
Troy Turner, the father of Sarah and Jacob who disappeared in September 2014, speaks to reporters after a court hearing on Feb. 22, 2016. Turner says the children's mother Catherine Hoggle is aware of her legal situation and claims she has said her lawyer instructed her to remain incompetent. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Jacob Hoggle, left, and Sarah Hoggle, right, were last seen in September 2014. Catherine Hoggle, center, has been charged in their deaths. (WTOP/File)
hogglereward_kry.jpg
Hoggle kids search (WTOP/Jamie Forzato)

WASHINGTON — Almost three years after Catherine Hoggle’s two young children disappeared, her lawyer has asked a Montgomery County judge to dismiss the three misdemeanor charges against her Thursday.

Hoggle is the last known person to see 3-year-old Sarah and 2-year-old Jacob Hoggle, Sept. 7, 2014. She told conflicting stories to the children’s father and detectives about where the children were.

Since January 2015, after being ruled incompetent to stand trial, Hoggle has been undergoing treatment at the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital, the state psychiatric hospital. According to her attorney and the children’s father, she has a history of mental health issues, including paranoia and schizophrenia.

During a competency hearing Thursday, Hoggle’s attorney, David Felsen told District Court Judge Sherri Koch he filed a motion to have the charges against his client dismissed.

WTOP was the first to report that Hoggle would seek to get the charges dismissed Thursday.

Hoggle is charged with parental abduction, neglect, and hindering or obstructing the investigation — all misdemeanors.

Felsen said under Maryland statutes, if a defendant is deemed incompetent, misdemeanors or non-violent crimes must be dismissed after three years.

The final of Hoggle’s three misdemeanors was filed Sept. 15, 2014.

Prosecutors with Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office believe Hoggle murdered her two children, and have argued she is feigning mental illness to avoid trial.

Aware of the deadline, prosecutors requested Thursday’s hearing to review the most recent evaluation from doctors at Perkins.

In court, the judge said Hoggle’s treatment team found she remains unable to assist in her own defense, even though they believe she can be restored to competency.

The judge set a Sept. 15 hearing to argue Felsen’s motion.

Outside the courthouse, the children’s father, Troy Turner, said prosecutors have told him they have enough evidence to indict Hoggle for murder, but she has not been charged with that crime.

“My understanding is we’re going to go forward with homicide charges, so it’s not like she’s gonna walk on the 15th,” Turner said.

Turner said prosecutors “feel like they have a strong case, even without bodies.”

Ramon Korionoff, spokesman for Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy, “could neither confirm nor deny” prosecutors plan to ask a grand jury to indict Hoggle on murder charges.

Prosecutors and police have never disclosed whether they have gathered any evidence suggesting Hoggle killed her children. Hoggle has told psychiatrists her children are safe.

“There is no allegation that any harm has come to either child,” wrote Felsen in his motion. “The allegations center around the police inability to confirm the whereabouts of Jacob and Sarah.”

Hoggle has attempted to escape from Perkins several times during her confinement, according to prosecutors.

Although it would be theoretically possible for Hoggle to walk free if the District Court Judge dismissed the current misdemeanors against her, prosecutors would almost certainly file other misdemeanors or felony charges to keep her in custody, as they try to determine the fate of the children.

“It is unjust to continue these prosecutions,” wrote Felsen. “These three cases should be dismissed.”

Even if misdemeanor criminal charges are dropped, if a judge believes Hoggle is still a danger to herself or others, she could be kept at Perkins under a civil commitment.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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