Matthew Hoffman, an out-of-work tree trimmer, has been arrested, according to Ann Sanner of the Associated Press. The arrest came as a result of police finding missing 13-year-old Sarah Maynard bound and gagged in Hoffman’s basement last weekend, according to Knox County Sheriff David Barber. Since his arrest, Hoffman has given details to police regarding the rest of the missing family. The details have lead to the gruesome discovery of their bodies, which were stuffed into trash bags and hidden in a hollowed out tree base in a wooded area in Fredericktown, Ohio. Fredericktown is within 20 miles of both Hoffman’s home and the Hermann home.
The three deceased are Sarah’s mother, 32-year-old Tina Hermann; her brother, 11-year-old Kody Maynard; and family friend, 41-year old Stephanie Sprang. They, along with Sarah, were reported missing on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010. The family home was found awash with blood, and is considered to be the location where the murders of the three took place. At this time, officials are not speculating on how the three were killed.
Suspicion arose when Hermann didn’t report to work on Nov. 10 at a local ice cream store. On Nov. 11, a deputy went to the home, which was unoccupied and spattered with a large amount of blood. Hermann’s abandoned truck was found later that day near the Gambler campus of Kenyon College. Police later found Hoffman sitting in his vehicle near a bicycle trail which was not far from the abandoned pickup truck. He was questioned later that day.
Following the questioning, the police became suspicious of Hoffman and a SWAT team was dispatched to his home in Mount Vernon. There, in his basement, they found the surviving Maynard child tied up and gagged. She was rescued and is reported to be hospitalized in good condition, although police will not reveal the details of her ordeal at this time. Hoffman is charge with one count of felony kidnapping. While he is the prime suspect in the murders of the other three, he has not been charged at this time, pending further investigation. More charges are expected to follow after the grisly discovery of the bodies.
30-year-old Hoffman is now in jail for the kidnapping charge. He was arrested at his home after the discovery of the young girl. He has a known criminal past. He spent six years in a Colorado prison after an arson conviction. He had been seen around the Hermann home in recent days before the kidnapping. Neighbors reported that after he lost his job, he began catching small wild animals and eating them. His relationship, if any, with the abducted family is not known. However, his mother and stepfather live in a home in the neighborhood. Hoffman frequently used their address as his second address, although he didn’t actually visit them that often. He remains the lone suspect in the three murders.