‘It doesn’t get any easier’: Father of missing Md. kids reflects 4 years later

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — On a drive home, Troy Turner heard his daughter’s favorite commercial jingle play on his car radio. As the tune lingered, Turner said he could hear his little girl singing it in the back seat, even though she hasn’t sat there in four years.

In 2014, Turner’s daughter, 3-year-old Sarah Hoggle, and his son, 2-year-old Jacob Hoggle, left with their mother, Catherine Hoggle. The two young children haven’t been seen since.

“It doesn’t get any easier with time,” Turner said on the four-year anniversary of his children’s disappearance from Montgomery County, Maryland.

Catherine Hoggle, who has been charged with murdering their children, has told conflicting stories about where they are to their father and to investigators. Doctors have found the Clarksburg mother to be incompetent to stand trial. She continues to undergo treatment for severe mental illness at the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital in Jessup.

At the time of their disappearance, Sarah Hoggle, left, was 3 years old, and Jacob Hoggle was 2. (Courtesy Montgomery County police)

“Now, here we are four years later — no real progress,” Turner said.

Hoggle’s attorney said her situation remains substantially similar to what it has been as she continues to be treated at the hospital. “Doctors have determined that she is not in a place where she can participate in any meaningful way,” said Hoggle’s attorney, David Felsen.

For Turner and his family, they remain skeptical as to whether or not Hoggle is unfit for trial.

“Through speaking to her and other people who have spoken to her, things like that, she clearly is competent to stand trial,” Turner said.

He said early on in the search, he knew after talking with police that there was only a small chance his children would be found alive. But, he said as their father, he had to hold on to hope.

For two years, Turner said he left his doors unlocked, hoping one day the children would walk in. Now, he said the hope of finding them alive has faded.

“She killed my children, and it hurts to say it every time I say it, but logically, that’s the only real conclusion you can come to if you actually look at it,” Turner said.

Turner, who was never married to Hoggle, had three children with her, including one son who is now 9 years old and lives full-time with Turner.

Last year, Hoggle was charged with murder as a deadline for moving forward on misdemeanor charges against her approached. If in five years she isn’t found fit to stand trial, there is a chance she could be released.

Turner believes if released, she could be a danger to their remaining son. “He’s not mentally or emotionally equipped to protect himself against his biological mother,” Turner said.

This is an age-progressed composite of Jacob and Sarah Hoggle from 2016. (Courtesy Find Sarah and Jacob)

Turner has been rallying behind legislation, which would in cases such as this, delay the dismissal of charges against someone found incompetent to stand trial until their victims or any potential victims become adults. A bill in the Maryland Senate failed last session, but Turner said he hopes to eventually see a similar bill passed.

For his son, who was 5 years old when his brother and sister disappeared, Turner said it has been tough for him to move on without Sarah and Jacob. “As his understanding grows, it’s kind of a jumping back to square one for him coping with it,” Turner said.

For his family, Turner said none of them have been the same since the two children went missing. The support of family, friends and community is what has kept them going through the years, he added.

“In some ways, my kids have become Montgomery County’s kids,” Turner said.

Another mental evaluation of Hoggle is set to take place later this year. Turner hopes at one point, he will be able to find out what exactly happened to his children, and they will finally be found.

“They still deserve to come home and be loved, and shown that love and respect, and to be able to rest,” he said.

A vigil for Sarah and Jacob Hoggle is planned for 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Chick-fil-A at the Germantown Town Center on Century Boulevard in Germantown.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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