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Thursday
Jan062011

Hoffman Pleads Guilty in Gruesome Ohio Killings and Abduction

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MOUNT VERNON, Ohio) -- An Ohio man pleaded guilty Thursday to killing three people, stuffing their bodies in a hollow tree, and kidnapping and raping a 13-year-old girl. He was promptly given a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Matthew Hoffman, 30, was confronted during his sentencing Thursday by his 13-year-old victim and Knox County Prosecutor John Thatcher read a statement the girl wrote.

"This has changed my whole life and my family's life, too," the girl wrote.

"This is so sickening, Matthew, to know you even had the guts to do this to a family," her statement said.

She also told Hoffman that she was no longer afraid of him.

"I believe (the victim) isn't afraid of Hoffman anymore, if she says so. I was glad she got to see him go to prison today," Thatcher told ABC News Thursday in an interview after the sentencing.

The girl had been previously identified, but now that it is apparent that she was a sex crime victim, her name is being withheld.

The indictment and Thursday's hearing cleared up some of the mystery around the gruesome crime. It had been speculated that Hoffman had targeted the family in order to kidnap the girl, but the carnage was the result of a burglary gone horribly wrong.

"Hoffman did not target this family. He chose to burglarize the house because he saw that he could enter through an open garage door. We believe he burglarized another house in the county entering through an open garage door," Thatcher said.

The indictment states that Hoffman, an unemployed ex-tree trimmer with a rap sheet, was attempting to burglarize the home of Tina Herrmann, 32, on Nov. 10.

He was surprised by the family and then stabbed Hermann to death along with her son, Kody Maynard, 11, and a family friend, Stephanie Sprang, 41. He also killed the family dog.

In the home was Herrmann's 13-year-old daughter who Hoffman kidnapped, and brought to his residence where he raped her, the indictment states.

"For whatever reason, he chose to spare (the girl) and thank God he did," Thatcher said after the court hearing Thursday, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

The prosecutor also said that Hoffman, when confronted by evidence of his crime, agreed to tell police where he stashed the bodies and plead guilty if he was spared the death penalty. Officials had previously said they would never have found the bodies if Hoffman hadn't directed them to the precise location.

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