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Tuesday
Nov162010

Kidnap Suspect Matthew Hoffman Yawns in Court Appearance

Photo Courtesy - WSYX Columbus(MOUNT VERNON, Ohio) -- Matthew Hoffman, the former convict accused of kidnapping a 13-year-old girl and eyed in the disappearance of her family, yawned when he appeared in an Ohio court Tuesday via video. As a safety precaution, the suspect was dressed in a "suicide gown."

Hoffman, 30, remained silent when charged in court for kidnapping Sarah Maynard, 13, and holding her prisoner in his basement, bound and gagged.

The suspect did not enter a plea. He looked down through much of the hearing, even yawning at one point.

Hoffman's public defender Bruce Malek said his client was unemployed, but had previously worked as a seasonal tree trimmer.

The judge set bail at $1 million and scheduled an additional hearing for next Tuesday.

If convicted of kidnapping, Hoffman could face a 10-year prison term. Authorities have indicated Hoffman could face additional charges.

Hoffman wore an anti-suicide gown made of a heavy material, intended to keep inmates from killing themselves with their own clothes. Knox County Sheriff David Barber said Hoffman had indicated he was contemplating suicide and was placed on suicide watch.

Police believe Hoffman may have also played a role in the disappearance of the girl's family. Her mother Tina Herrmann, 32, brother Kody Maynard, 10, and family friend Stephanie Sprang, 41, were last seen last Wednesday at the family's home in Herman, Ohio, some 10 miles from where Sarah was found.

Barber told reporters Tuesday that police had discovered a Walmart receipt for tarps, garbage bags and a T-shirt at Hoffman's home. He said investigators had since found tarps and garbage bags he described as "significant to the investigation."

"We have recovered and collected significant evidence in this case," he said.

Since Hoffman's arrest, neighbors have described the convicted arsonist, who was released from a Colorado prison two years ago, as "bizarre." Hoffman served a seven-year term for setting fire to a condominium complex in Steamboat Springs, Colo., in an attempt to cover up a burglary.

Neighbors in Ohio said they would see him climbing trees, spying on them from the boughs, building fires on his front lawn and killing small animals.

"He was killing the squirrels because he doesn't grocery shop," neighbor Kara Fowler told ABC News. "He would actually kill the squirrels and eat them."

Barber said Monday it was increasingly likely that Sarah's missing family were dead.

"We still would like to retain a hopeful attitude, but we have to be realistic," Barber said Monday. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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