Maryland Judge Drops Murder Charges Against Catherine Hoggle in Case of Missing Children

Catherine Hoggle is suspected of killing her two of her children, Jacob and Sarah, in September 2014 in Montgomery County, Maryland

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A Maryland woman suspected for years of killing her two young children will not stand trial in their deaths after a judge ruled Wednesday she remains incompetent and dismissed the murder charges against her due to state law.

Catherine Hoggle is suspected of killing two of her three children, Jacob and Sarah, after they disappeared from Montgomery County in 2014. The children, who were just 2 and 3 years old at the time, have never been found.

Over the past eight years, the county court system has repeatedly deemed Hoggle not mentally competent to stand trial. Police have said she's refused to cooperate, and prosecutors have accused her of faking the extent of her mental illness.

"This system is broken. Whenever someone can murder two children and then be treated as a regular patient, be given more rights than the kids, or the survivors around them who they've affected, there's something really wrong," Sarah and Jacob's father, Troy Turner, said Wednesday after the judge's ruling.

The judge ordered for Hoggle to be involuntarily committed to a psychiatric institution civilly as she remains a danger to herself and others. Hoggle, who had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia before the children went missing, has been held in a maximum-security psychiatric hospital since her arrest in 2014.

Under Maryland law, if Hoggle was not found competent by Thursday, her murder charges must be dropped due to the state's five year limitation. Hoggle was first found incompetent Dec. 1, 2017. An appeals court ruled in 2021 that prosecutors had until December 2022 to try the case.

"The state, by law, has five years to restore her to competency to try her for the murders of those two children," Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy previously said.

McCarthy said Wednesday it's possible that Hoggle could be released one day if she's found to no longer be a threat to others. He said if that happens, he's prepared to charge her again with murder.

Catherine Hoggle is accused of killing her two children, but she might never head to trial. Hoggle's lawyer argued that Maryland law states that charges must be dropped against a defendant who has been deemed incompetent to stand trial for five years. News4's Darcy Spencer reports a judge will soon make a decision.

In August, a retired judge brought in to look at the case said he was not comfortable making a ruling based on written reports and wanted to hear from witnesses and ask questions of doctors.

Hoggle's defense team argued that 19 doctors in a row have found she is incompetent to stand trial. Her attorney, David Felsen, said his client suffers from schizophrenia.

"Two doctors, two and a half years apart, have found not only that was Ms. Hoggle was incompetent, or is incompetent, but that she was non-restorable," Felsen said.

The Disappearance of Sarah and Jacob Hoggle

Police began searching for the children in September 2014 after their father, Troy Turner, realized they had been missing for several days.

Jacob Hoggle was last seen Sunday, Sept. 7 at Catherine Hoggle's mother's house. Hoggle borrowed her father's car and told her parents she was taking the little boy to get pizza. She returned three hours later without him, telling her parents she dropped him off at a playmate's house. Police later determined that Jacob had never been at a friend's home.

Sarah Hoggle was last seen early the following morning, when Hoggle told Turner, her common-law husband, that she was dropping off the child at a daycare center.

When she returned home three hours later, she told Turner that she had taken both Jacob and Sarah to the unknown daycare. Police said that Turner, who works nights, hadn't known that Jacob had never come home after visiting his grandmother's house.

"Four days was too long. Four years is just ridiculous." The father of Sarah and Jacob Hoggle says he's still hoping to find his children four years after their disappearance.

Later that day, when Turner asked Hoggle about picking up their children from the daycare, Hoggle would not tell him where they were.

Hoggle herself then disappeared for several days after Turner tried to take her to police to report the children's disappearance. She was later found with an altered appearance and arrested.

Police charged Hoggle with misdemeanor child neglect, abduction and hindering law enforcement. In 2017, she was charged with two counts of murder.

Hoggle Children Believed Dead

After Catherine Hoggle's arrest, she claimed she left the children with someone, but she has never said with whom or where they might be. She told police the children were "alive and safe."

Montgomery County police searched more than 14,000 acres of land in hopes of finding Jacob and Sarah. But police transitioned to a homicide investigation a few days after their disappearance based on the length of time and their 15-hour interrogation of Hoggle.

Turner organized numerous searches for Sarah and Jacob in the weeks and months after they disappeared, and handed out thousands of fliers with their photos.

"I miss my kids. I want them home," Turner has said.

In 2017, after years of hoping that his two children were alive, Turner said he was certain that their mother murdered them.

"Catherine Hoggle murdered my children and I hope Sarah and Jacob get the justice they deserve," Turner said. "I have held out hope that something else may have happened as I think that any parent under these circumstances would but it has always been a faint hope and I know now with the passage of time that Catherine killed my babies." 

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