Chambers County – When 48-year-old Sarah Hartsfield was indicted for murdering her fifth husband in February, stories from across the country about the mother of four’s past started surfacing and unraveling a twisted web.
From her little brother’s bizarre death in 1990 to a murder plot she allegedly concocted, and even the fatal shooting of a fiancé, KPRC 2 has been uncovering more about Hartsfield every step of the way.
Sarah has not been arrested or charged in connection with the death of any person other than Joseph Hartsfield. Sarah is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
This in-depth, special look at the case comes as Hartsfield is indicted for murder, awaiting trial in Chambers County, and in jail on a $4.5 million bond.
Six months after prosecutors cleared Sarah in David Bragg’s death, she married David George. The newlyweds moved into the same home where the first David died.
“The fact that she moved into the house postmortem and took over control of the house was … awkward,” Thomas Bragg, David’s brother, said. “Even worse, she married somebody and moved a new significant other into that house.”
- In April 2021, disturbing allegations involving the couple got the attention of the FBI
- Sarah’s third ex-husband, Christopher Donohue, filed for a restraining order
- Donohue found out from the kids that Sarah allegedly wanted her new husband David George to travel to Arizona to kill Donohue’s new wife
According to court documents, the reason was “so that i would be too busy dealing with the death to focus on fighting for my girls anymore,” Donohue wrote in the application for a protective order.
His doorbell camera captured David George showing up at his house with a bouquet of roses a few months before the alleged murder plot was discovered.
“Yes, hello? Yes, I have some flowers for Donohues,” David George is heard saying on the camera.
“No card or anything?” Donohue replies.
“Let me check and see if I got it,” George said, while walking away.
He never came back with a card and Donohue watched him drive away in a black car, which according to documents, Sarah allegedly had George buy to drive to Arizona to carry out the hit.
“That one was another one that took me by shock,” said Barb Stuart, one of Sarah’s foster mothers. “They were very scared. They were shocked.”
According to the affidavit:
- Sarah told George he wasn’t allowed back home until he finished the job
- George had been trying for months to get her to “stop pressuring him”
- George told Donohue he’d lie to her about why it hadn’t happened yet
“I think David cared about her and was reeled into how good a person that she can be and was trying to make her happy and keep peace,” Stuart said.
“I thought it was nuts,” said Sarah’s son, Ryan Donohue. “But, you know, after the year or so that I’ve had with her from getting kicked out … I wasn’t putting anything past it.”
Weeks later, David George filed affidavits with the court:
- Denied the allegations
- Called them “lies and fabrications”
- Wrote that Sarah is “a good mother and does not present a danger”
David George declined to go on camera but shed light on the alleged murder plot when contacted by KPRC 2.
“I retracted the truth trying to protect her,” he said in part in a statement. “Anybody who knows me knows I wouldn’t do that. Sarah has two loves in her life, that’s all she’s ever had. Herself and money.”
A week after the FBI reportedly questioned Sarah about the murder plot, she filed to divorce David George.
The FBI has not confirmed or denied the existence of an investigation.
Local police in Sierra Vista, Arizona told KPRC 2 in a statement the FBI asked officers to close patrol Donohue’s home while they investigated “until they had a better understanding of the case.”
“There’s no other way to say it. He got played,” Ryan Donohue said. “Even when she was wrong, he’s on her side.”
Also written in the affidavit, a daughter who overheard investigators talking to Sarah told Donohue “mom lied about everything and the agents were gone”
Sarah lost custody of her two younger kids after the plot came to light. A Bell County, Texas, judge granted the protective order after finding that family violence occurred and was likely to occur in the future.
The order remains in effect until June 8, 2023.
In January 2022, Sarah and George’s divorce became final. The family’s Belton home sold around the same time, which was welcome news for her first ex-husband Titus Knoernschild.
“She got with her fifth husband and they sold the house here and moved to Houston. So finally, we felt a bigger relief because, okay, there’s no longer a place for her to stay here,” Knoernschild said.
Click on the graphic below to learn more about Sarah’s complicated past relationships.