Troy Turner doesn’t recall the exact moment when he met the future mother of his three kids, but he knows what attracted him to her.
“She was cool, she was fun to talk to, she was fun to hang out with,” he says.
Now, 10 years later, Catherine Hoggle resides in a state psychiatric hospital in Jessup, Maryland, and the two youngest of those three children are missing. Their mother — who was charged in September with their murder after years of court battles — is still keeping quiet about what she may have done with them after they were last seen alive in 2014.
She has yet to enter a plea because the court has repeatedly found her to be not competent. “As she sits in the hospital, she is innocent,” says her attorney, David Felsen. Her next hearing will be in 2018.
The twists in his story have left Turner, 45, in agony, convinced that Catherine, 31, is faking the severity of her mental illness to avoid a trial and answers.
“My kids have less rights than she does, and less protections,” says Turner, a time-share senior sales representative left to raise and safeguard the couple’s oldest child, a 9-year-old boy. “She’s protected by the system.”
He’s come to accept the wrenching reality that Sarah and Jacob may no longer be alive. But he still longs to know what happened to them.
“With more time passing, there is just more evidence that she killed my babies,” he says.
“This case deals with a young woman who is in the throes of profound mental health issues. Everybody acknowledges that,” says Felsen, Catherine’s attorney. “The case is the state’s attempt to sanction her for conduct that the state believes occurred. Whether they can prove that or not is a different issue.”
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At the time he and Catherine met in 2007, Turner was working a side gig, making extra money as a bouncer at a sports bar and restaurant where Catherine, 14 years his junior, worked as a waitress. She became pregnant and they moved in together. In 2008, they welcomed their first son.
Tensions arose, but Turner says he attributed them to the stress of new parenthood for them both. Then came the two other children: Sarah, in 2010, and Jacob, in 2012.
Over the years Turner says he noticed Catherine growing more paranoid.
After episodes of irrational behavior that included hanging dishes over doorknobs so she would hear people she thought were breaking into their home, Turner says, Catherine was admitted to a mental health facility and diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, akin to schizophrenia, with symptoms such as delusions and mania.
She was treated and released on medication, he says.
“I knew it wasn’t safe for her to be alone with the kids,” he says. He scheduled babysitters, including her parents and his, to help watch Catherine and the children while he worked.
“She was my kids’ mom, and my whole thought process was to find the healthiest way to keep her in their lives,” Turner says.
Then, on Sept. 8, 2014, he awoke in their Maryland home to find Catherine, Sarah and Jacob all missing.
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He held off panic, sending their eldest on his way to school, until Catherine returned in his van, saying she’d taken Sarah and Jacob to a new child care center. Later that day, however, as Turner and Catherine drove to pick up the kids, she was unable to identify where she’d left them.
As an increasingly anxious Turner headed to the police station for help in his search, he says Catherine asked him to stop at a fast-food restaurant, from which she texted her mother that the kids were fine — then she vanished herself.
Days later, she was found wandering the streets and taken into custody, the whereabouts of the children still unknown. She has said vaguely that Sarah and Jacob are with others.
“She doesn’t really indicate anything,” says Turner, who talked to Catherine by phone several times over the years that she has been in a mental health facility. “She maintains that they’re out there somewhere.”
He says he’s given up on her and does not know if she will ever provide the answers he needs. “I just realized that she’s not going to say anything and I don’t have any other need to talk to her,” he says.
“That’s the narrative now, unfortunately,” Turner says. “The primary goal is to bring them home, no matter what, because they don’t deserve to be out there. ”
“There’s a possibility there’s nothing to find,” he says. “But we’re going to keep going one way or another.”
If you have any information on the whereabouts of Sarah and Jacob Hoggle, call 911 or 1-800-THE LOST.