Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge James Bonifant has found Catherine Hoggle incompetent to stand trial in disappearance of her two young children. Under Maryland law, felony charges have to be dismissed five years after the first time a defendant was found incompetent, so Judge James Bonifant has dismissed the two murder charges against Hoggle. Judge James Bonifant says Catherine Hoggle “meets the criteria for involuntary confinement,” because doctors say she is schizophrenic, delusional and paranoid.
Background of the case, per the Maryland Court of Special Appeals: Catherine Hoggle is the mother of Sarah Hoggle and Jacob Hoggle. According to the State, the two children were last seen in the care of their mother on September 7, 2014. At that time, Sarah was five years old, and Jacob was three years old. Hoggle was arrested three days after the children disappeared. Officers interrogated her for several hours, but they did not learn the location of the children.
Within one week of the arrest, the State filed a series of charging documents against Hoggle in the District Court of Maryland for Montgomery County. First, the State charged her with two counts of neglect of a minor. Next, the State charged her with one count of obstruction of justice. Finally, the State charged her with two counts of abduction or unlawful detention of a child by a relative. An evaluator from the Health Department examined Hoggle, who had a history of schizophrenia. The evaluator concluded that Hoggle was incompetent to stand trial at that time.
On January 10, 2015, the district court found that Hoggle was incompetent to stand trial and ordered that she be committed at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital. As required by statute, the district court periodically reviewed the issue of Hoggle’s competency. On nine occasions from the date of commitment until September 2017, the district court found that Hoggle remained incompetent and that she continued to meet the criteria for commitment.
At a separate proceeding in March 2016, about 18 months after the initiation of the 3 misdemeanor case in the district court, a prosecutor informed the court that the State planned to charge Hoggle with the murders of her two children. The prosecutor said that the State had decided to delay the indictment so that the grand jury might be available, if needed, to investigate the disappearance of the two children. According to the prosecutor, once the State obtained an indictment, the State would no longer be able to use the grand jury as an investigative entity.
On September 14, 2017, the State dismissed all charges against Hoggle in district court by entering a nolle prosequi. On the same day, the State obtained an indictment charging her in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County with first-degree murder of Sarah Hoggle and first-degree murder of Jacob Hoggle. More information about the case can be seen here.