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The house where Matthew Hoffman lived.
Credit: Google Maps
Hoffman covered the walls of several rooms with bags of leaves.
Credit: Knox county prosecutor's office
The basement where Hoffman kept Sarah Maynard.
Sarah Maynard was found alive in the home after several days.
Killer(s): Matthew Hoffman,
Victim(s): Sarah Maynard (survived),
Written by: Jewls Krueger
Matthew Hoffman loved trees, and it was common for his neighbors to see him perched in the branches of a tree on his property. For a while he had worked as a tree-trimmer, but was unreliable and eventually lost that job. He had dated a woman for a while who lived with him, but by late 2010, the couple had broken up and Hoffman seemed to be slipping away from reality. He purposefully turned off the power to his house and hunted squirrels that he would cook and eat.
On November 10, 2010 Matthew Hoffman entered the empty home of Tina Herrmann where she lived with her two children. When Tina Herrmann returned to the house, Hoffman attacked her and her neighbor, Stephanie Sprang, with a hunting knife, killing them both. He then dismembered both bodies in the bathtub. Tina's children, Sarah (13) and Kody (11) , returned home from school that afternoon unaware that their mother had been killed and that the killer was still in the house. Hoffman heard them enter and attacked both of them before they could run away, killing Kody with a stab to the head with the hunting knife.
Instead of killing Sarah, he bound her with cords and placed the body parts of her mother, brother, and neighbor into plastic bags. Hoffman took Sarah back to his home, locked her to a pipe, then disposed of the bags inside a hollow tree in the Kokosing Wildlife Area.
By the time of the murders, Hoffman's home was close to unlivable. Inside, he had piled huge amounts of leaves on the ground and stuffed plastic bags with more leaves which he used to line the walls. In the basement, Hoffman made a makeshift bed for Sarah out of leaves, and fed her a small bowl of cereal with spoiled milk.
Over the next several days, Hoffman intimidated Sarah by telling her that he had someone watching the house and that if she made any noise, he would kill her immediately. Sarah played along with her captor's wishes and hoped that by not putting up a fight, he would eventually free her. Hoffman didn't allow Sarah to use the restroom and instead made her a makeshift diaper out of a trash bag that he forced her to wear.
Investigators were able to pinpoint Matthew Hoffman as a suspect within a few days of the murder. Hoffman had purchased gas tanks from a nearby Wal-Mart and had left them in the garage of the Herrmann house, planning on returning to the house to burn it down but not getting the chance to. On November 14, 2010, four days after the murders, police raided Hoffman's home and rescued Sarah. She went on to live with her father.
Hoffman accepted a plea deal with prosecutors and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Although he admitted to the murders, he consistently claimed that he treated Sarah much better than he actually had during her time with him. He claimed that they ate burgers together and watched movies, both things that Sarah denied happening at all.
Matthew Hoffman's house is still standing in Mount Vernon, and is located on Columbus Road just south of downtown Mount Vernon. The two-story, beige house is located just south of Lewis Street, opposite of where S. Madison Ave meets Columbus.
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