A fire on the porch of the home at 481 King Beach Drive in Apple Valley was quickly extinguished last night by the Eastern Knox County Joint Fire District.
The home is believed to be the site where three Knox County, Ohio residents were murdered nearly two weeks ago.
In a report at KnoxPages.com, Fire Chief Larry Stimpert said that the suspicious fire is under investigation by the authorities. The call was received shortly after 11:00 pm Monday night.
The bodies of Stephanie Sprang, Tina Herrmann and her son Kody Maynard were found in a hollow tree near Fredericktown on November 18. They were last seen on November 10 along with Tina’s 13 year old daughter, who was later found bound and gagged in the basement of a home in nearby Mount Vernon.
The homeowner, Matthew Hoffman, is being held in the Knox County Jail on a felony charge of kidnapping and is the primary suspect in the murders. Hoffman has a prior felony arson conviction in Steamboat Springs, Colorado where he served more than five years in prison.
Hoffman was due to appear in Mount Vernon Municipal Court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing to determine if probable cause for felony charges exists. Through his attorneys he has waived the right to that hearing and will remain in jail on a $1 million bond. Knox County Prosecutor John Thatcher will present the kidnapping charge along with any other charges to a grand jury within four to six weeks.
Hundreds of volunteers searched several areas in Knox County for several days looking for any sign of the women and young boy. Four days after his arrest, Hoffman gave information to the authorities that led them to an area near Fredericktown, Ohio where the bodies were recovered inside trash bags. A dog belonging to Herrmann had also been killed and placed inside the tree.
Knox County Coroner Jennifer Ogle has determined multiple stab wounds to the chest and back as the cause of death. The bodies were dismembered.
As the families of the victims prepare to bury their loved ones, many area residents are coming together to assist financially. At least one two-day benefit has been planned and accounts have been established at several banks.