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Sarah Maynard, 13, Rescued From Kidnapper Matthew Hoffman; 3 Others Still Missing

By Pete Kotz in missing persons, unsolved
Friday, November 19, 2010 at 9:12 am
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UPDATE: The bodies of Sarah Maynard's mother, brother, and her mother's friend have been found in a hollowed out tree in Apple Valley, Ohio. Police say they were discovered after receiving a tip from Matthew Hoffman's lawyer, though it doesn't look like he's confessed. See update after the jump...

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Sarah was found bound and gagged in the basement of Matthew Hoffman's home
13-year-old Sarah Maynard and her brother, 10-year-old Kody, were last seen at school on Wednesday. But sometime that day, something went very wrong at their Howard, Ohio home. When her mom didn't show up for work, police arrived to find a bloody scene.

Not only had the two kids disappeared, but so had their mother, Tina Herrmann, and her friend Stephanie Sprang. Stephanie's car was still the driveway. Tina's truck wouldn't be located until the next day at nearby Kenyon College.

It would take four more days for police to get a break in the case. Yesterday, Sarah was found bound and gagged in the basement of the home of Matthew Hoffman, a 30-year-old man who lives in nearby Mount Vernon, Ohio, 10 miles from her home.

Police won't say how they learned Hoffman had abducted the girl, nor if he knew the family prior to the kidnapping. But if they hoped to find all four missing people, they came up empty. The two women and Kody are still missing. Judging by the bloody seen they found in Tina's home, this doesn't look good.

Today, police have blocked off public access to Foundation Park, which is near Hoffman's home. Neighbors say he's a frequent visitor to the park, and a patrolmen apparently found evidence there last night that may be linked to the case.

So far, detectives are releasing almost no details in the case. Sarah has been hospitalized, but her condition is unknown. Police won't say if Sarah has provided any information on the other three.

Hoffman, meanwhile, has been initially charged with kidnapping, but you can expect the charges to continue to grow.

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Sarah Maynard and the three people now presumed dead: Kody Maynard, mom Tina Hermann and her friend Stephanie Sprang.
UPDATE: Police seem to believe Sarah's mother, brother and her mother's friend are dead.

At least that's implied by the change in language from Knox County Sheriff David Barber, who had previously been describing this as a missing person's case. Yesterday, he conceded that all three may be dead, and that it's now "an investigation into the recovery of three people."

Divers searched a lake near Hoffman's home, but were only able to recover two cars.

Hoffman is in jail on kidnapping charges, but he also has a previous conviction for arson. In 2001, he pleaded guilty to burning down a townhome in Steamboat Springs. At the time, Hoffman was working as a plumber at the home when he stole a key to the house, which he later used to commit burglary and steal the owner's Chevy Suburban.

But the moron panicked when he figured someone might peg him for the crime, so he returned the next day with 10 gallons of gas and set the townhome on fire. The blaze ended up burning 10 homes and totally gutted the one he'd burglarized.

He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 8 years.

UPDATE: The bodies of three people have been found in a hollowed out log.

Deputies discovered the bodies of Tina Herrmann, Kody Maynard, and Stephanie Sprang in a tree in Apple Valley, Ohio, miles from Hoffman's home. The working suspicion is that they were killed in Tina's home, then hidden in plastic bags inside the tree. The sheriff believes Hoffman, a former tree trimmer, may have hollowed out the tree himself, though it's unknown if he did it before or after the slaying.

Police admitted that they wouldn't likely have found the trio had they not received a tip on their location from Hoffman's lawyer. Though it doesn't look like Hoffman has made a full confession, he at least helped with ending the search.

Detectives still won't say what they've learned from Sarah, or if she witnessed the mass murder.

See our last story from the Missing Persons file: Andrew Compton, Missing College Student, Killed During Sex With Man He Met Online.

Tags: Ohio

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