Entries in Matthew Hoffman (5)


Ohio Kidnapper, Killer of Three Stuffed House with Leaves

Photo Courtesy - Knox County Prosecutor's Office(MOUNT VERNON, Ohio) -- The Ohio man found guilty of holding a 13-year-old girl hostage after killing her family and stuffing their dismembered bodies in a hollow tree had a bizarre obsession with trees and leaves, police documents reveal.

Pictures of Matthew Hoffman's home reveal a living room stuffed with leaves, a bathroom lined with more than 100 bags of leaves, and a freezer that contained only a couple of red popsicles and two dead squirrels.

Hoffman, 31, is serving a life sentence for three murders and for the kidnapping and rape of a 13-year-old girl.

The two police officers from Mount Vernon, Ohio, who first entered Hoffman's home in November 2010 discovered mounds of leaves so high they feared that bodies could be buried underneath them.

"So much runs through your mind: What if someone is hiding under that pile?  Or in this case, I thought, 'Is that where he's hiding the bodies,'" Mount Vernon Police Detective Craig Feeney told the Columbus Dispatch.

By the time police entered his home, Hoffman had already killed and dismembered Tina Hermann, her 11-year-old son Kody Maynard and Hermann's friend Stephanie Sprang.

Police found Hermann's 13-year-old daughter in the basement of Hoffman's home.  She was bound hand and foot and was confined to a makeshift bed of leaves.

Hoffman, an unemployed tree trimmer, confessed to investigators that he had made the bed of leaves and covered it with blankets.  He told investigators that the little girl "liked that bed, it was extremely comfy and I wanted to sleep on it."

He also admitted raping the girl, who was found by police wearing "a white plastic bag that had holes cut out for her legs that she was wearing like a makeshift diaper," according to case files.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


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.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Ohio Coroner: Victims Stabbed, Dismembered Before Stuffed Into Tree

Photo Courtesy - WSYX Columbus, Ohio(MOUNT VERNON, Ohio) -- An Ohio woman, her young son and a family friend were “attacked with a knife and stabbed multiple times in the back and chest,” the Knox County Coroner's Office revealed Saturday, before their bodies were dismembered, stuffed into garbage bags and left in a hollow tree.

Authorities found the remains Thursday when Matthew Hoffman, the man in custody for kidnapping the fourth member of the group – 13-year-old Sarah Maynard, who was recovered from Hoffman’s basement – tipped them to a location.

The victims include Sarah's mother, Tina Herrmann, 32, Sarah’s younger brother, Kody Maynard, 10, and 41-year-old family friend Stephanie Sprang.

The bodies were found just miles from Hoffman's home, where Sarah was found last week by a SWAT team.

Hoffman is a 31-year-old drifter who was recently released from a Colorado prison after serving a term for arson and burglary. He was arrested last Sunday and charged with kidnapping.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Ohio Police Find Bodies of Trio Who Disappeared Last Week

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(APPLE VALLEY, Ohio) -- The bodies of an Ohio woman, her young son and a family friend have been discovered by police, wrapped in garbage bags and stuffed in a hollow tree, authorities said Thursday.

Knox County Sheriff David Barber said they were told where to find the victims by Matthew Hoffman, who was in custody for kidnapping 13-year-old Sarah Maynard.

The victims included Sarah's mother Tina Herrmann, 32, her younger brother Kody Maynard, 10, and family friend Stephanie Sprang, 41.

The bodies were found just near Apple Valley, Ohio, miles away from Hoffman's home where Sarah was found on Sunday by a SWAT team. The girl was bound and gagged in Hoffman's basement in rural Mount Vernon, Ohio.

Hoffman is a 31-year-old drifter who had recently been released from a Colorado prison after serving a term for arson and burglary.

Police immediately focused the search for Sarah's family members near Hoffman's home, honing in on a park a short walk from the house where he kept the girl confined.

Hoffman was arrested Sunday and charged with kidnapping. Police say he has been placed on suicide watch and has not been cooperating with their investigation. He appeared in court Tuesday via video wearing an anti-suicide gown and his bail was set at $1 million.

Police said Sarah was in good health, staying with her father and cooperating with the investigation.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


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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