The bodies of two women and a young boy who recently went missing from their home in Howard, Ohio, were all stabbed repeatedly in the chest and back before being dismembered and placed in garbage bags, Knox County (OH) coroner Jennifer Ogle said Saturday. The Associated Press reported that the remains were then placed in the hollow of a tree located in a wildlife game preserve northwest of Fredericktown, which is north of Columbus, Ohio. Although she could determine the cause and manner of death, the coroner could not pinpoint exactly when the victims died. And with each succeeding detail learned in the increasingly gruesome investigation, the fact that Sarah Maynard was found alive is beginning to look more and more miraculous.
Thirteen-year-old Sarah Maynard was abducted with her mother, Tina Hermann, 10-year-old brother, Kody Maynard, and a family friend, Stephanie Sprang, on November 10. Four days later, Sarah Maynard was found bound and gagged in the basement of Matthew Hoffman’s home ten miles away in neighboring Mount Vernon. Although authorities found plenty of blood in the Hoffman residence, enough to lead them to suspect that someone may have been killed there, they found nobody in the house except Hoffman and the bound teen.
Hoffman was arrested for kidnapping and remains in jail on a $1 million bond.
Authorities said they questioned Sarah Maynard but it was unclear how much she knew or how much she was able to contribute to the investigation. It was not disclosed whether or not she witnessed the killings.
It was information provided by Matthew Hoffman that led police to the bodies, CNN reported, but in a subsequent press conference police would not say whether or not Hoffman had confessed to the killings. It is also unclear what charges will be brought against Hoffman, although he is scheduled for a court appearance on November 23 for a hearing on the Sarah Maynard kidnapping charge.
Investigators had to cut into the tree trunk to extricate the remains. It was unclear how the bodies were placed in the trunk but Hoffman was an experienced, albeit unemployed, tree-trimmer and had climbing equipment.
A friend of the family, Joe Pejsa, told the Associated Press that investigators told him that the family dog had also been killed and placed among the remains. Pejsa, who is the uncle of an ex-boyfriend of Tina Herrmann’s, was helping clean up the Herrmann house, which investigators believe was the initial site of the alleged kidnappings. He said that there was
Pejsa also said that the family had talked about a mysterious individual in camouflage that seemed to be observing their house in the months before they went missing.
Police do not know if the individual was Matthew Hoffman.
Authorities do not suspect that Hoffman had accomplices, but they do believe he had watched the Herrmann family for some time. They are also uncertain of his motive for his alleged actions.
Sarah Maynard was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at a local hospital and released. She is currently staying with relatives.
“Coroner: 2 Ohio women, boy stabbed and dismembered,” Associated Press on Google.com
“Missing Ohio women, boy confirmed dead,” CNN.com