Entries in Sarah Maynard (4)


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


Sarah Maynard's Missing Family Members Likely Killed, Police Say

Photo Courtesy - WSYX Columbus(MOUNT VERNON, Ohio) -- Divers searching a park near the home where an Ohio teenager was found bound and gagged came up empty-handed Monday after locating a car underwater they had briefly hoped would lead them to the girl's still-missing family members.

A police dive team retrieved a sedan from a pond at Foundation Park, located steps away from the home of suspected kidnapper Matthew Hoffman. After towing the car from the water, however, they quickly determined that it had been there for months, dashing the hopes of investigators who say it is decreasingly likely that Sarah Maynard's family will be found alive.

Sarah, 13, was rescued by a police SWAT team Sunday. Police found the girl alone. Hoffman, 31 and a convicted arsonist, was arrested and charged with kidnapping.

Despite the girl's efforts to help police in their investigation, they fear Sarah's little brother, mother and a family friend who disappeared at the same time may be dead.

"We still would like to retain a hopeful attitude, but we have to be realistic," Knox County Sheriff David Barber said.

Sarah was released from the hospital and has been reunited with family members. "Physically, she is fine," Barber said. "Obviously she has been through a lot."

"She's a very brave little girl," said Barber. "Not only is she assisting in the investigation, under the circumstance, a 13-year-old being held captive for [five] days, I'd call her the epitome of bravery."

He said Sarah was taken from her home in Howard, Ohio, along with her 10-year-old brother Kody, her mother Tina Herrmann, 32, and family friend Stephanie Sprang, 41, last Wednesday. Police reported that beer cans littered the blood splattered house. Barber said DNA tests are ongoing and would not speculate whose blood it was.

"Four people left that house, not under their own power," said the sheriff.

On Monday evening, a car was pulled out of a pond when a dive team's sonar indicated there was a vehicle underwater. Police removed the car from the park, but determined it had likely been there for months and was unrelated to the investigation.

The sheriff said the investigation was quickly moving from a missing persons case to a murder investigation.

"Four people are missing not quite a week. There has been no contact with them, with the exception of Sarah. Based on evidence, based on the fact we haven't seen them, there is a possibility that Stephanie, Tina and Kody are dead, that they've been killed," he said.

The sheriff used the word "realistic" repeatedly in stating "what the ultimate possibility is in a case like this."

Barber said investigators were trying to determine the family's relationship to Hofmann. "At this time, whether he's connected to the family or whether he connected himself to the family...a lot of that remains to be seen as the investigation continues," Barber said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 


Girl Found in Missing Family Mystery 

Photo Courtesy - WSYX Columbus(MOUNT VERNON, Ohio) -- The 13-year-old girl in a group of four people that went missing in Ohio last week was found alive Sunday, but she had been held against her will, police said.

A SWAT team found Sarah Maynard bound and gagged in the basement of a home in Mount Vernon, Ohio, Knox County Sheriff David Barber said at a news conference.

The man who lives in the house, 30-year-old Matthew Hoffman was arrested and charged with kidnapping, Barber said.

The girl was taken to Knox Community Hospital for evaluation, the sheriff said.

Maynard had disappeared along with her brother, her mother and a friend of her mother on Thursday from Howard, a small town in central Ohio.

Police reported Saturday that an "unusual amount of blood" was found in the home of Maynard's mother, Tina Herrmann, after the four vanished. Still missing are Herrmann's 10-year-old son Kody Maynard, and a friend, Stephanie Sprang, 41.

Herrmann, 32, was reported missing by her boyfriend, Greg Borders, on Wednesday. Borders told the Columbus Dispatch that the couple lived together but were in process of breaking up. He said he last heard from her Wednesday via text message.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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