Homicidal Hobbit Hoffman Stashes 3 Ohio Victims In Tree

Posted by BOC Staff | Kody Maynard,Matthew J Hoffman,Murdered,Sarah Maynard,Stephanie Sprang,Tina Herrmann,Uncategorized | Thursday 18 November 2010 10:11 pm

Mathew J Hoffman, former Knox County tree trimmer, gave police the 411 to locate Tina Herrmann, her son Kody Maynard and family friend Stephanie Sprang.  Sarah Maynard, 13, was previously rescued from Hoffman’s Mt Vernon, Ohio residence.

The missing victims were found  in a hollowed-out tree trunk , inside plastic garbage bags.

Hoffman became a POI after police found him idling along the trail eventually leading the remains.  Hoffman is a convicted felon from Colorado.

13 year old Sarah Maynard, was found in Hoffman’s Mt. Vernon Home bound and gagged. Investigators will not say whether our not she has been sexually assaulted.

Police will not disclose the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the victims. The investigation is ongoing.

Please check back to blinkoncrime.com for updates

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  1. Cherylynne says:

    could it be that he climbed a healthy tree to reach the hollow tree? they look awfully close together in the news where it was filmed. I was wondering if he planned on setting decomposed tree on fire to destroy all evidence being that it would be easily flammable right?

  2. VTLady79 says:

    This really may be a stupid question, and I apologize in advance if this is the case, BUT…

    Is there any chance Hoffman could have rigged a rope an pulley from a branch of a nearby tree, that had a strong limb centered directly above, the hollowed opening of the rotted out tree?
    OR, even have climbed up an extremely closely neighboring tree, that was healthy, and then rigged a pulley on onto one of the large branches of the hollow tree that, likewise was centered just above the hollow opening?

    Perhaps if this were possible, he was able to avoid physically climbing the hollowed tree itself, and/or having to make the ascent while carrying up the bags containing his victims individually…

  3. Jeff D says:

    Possibly a family member of one of the victims?..Erasing the site of such horrible things?…


    Need you here:



  4. landlmom says:

    Timeline released:

    snipped from link:
    Nov. 10

    • Tina Herrmann’s ex-boyfriend, Greg Borders, who lives at her home, leaves for work at 3:40 a.m. He talks to Herrmann an hour later and receives a text from her at 11:30 a.m., saying she fed their dog. At some point, family friend Stephanie Sprang arrives at the Herrmann home.

    • Kody and Sarah Maynard, Herrmann’s children, attend classes at East Knox Middle School and return home on the school bus that afternoon.

    • Herrmann doesn’t show up for her 4 p.m. shift at the Dairy Queen in Mount Vernon. Her manager calls the Knox County sheriff’s office. A deputy knocks on the door of the home at 481 King Beach Drive in Apple Valley about 8 p.m. and again at 11 p.m. Both times, nobody answers the door and nothing appears wrong. Herrmann’s Ford F-150 pickup truck is in the driveway that night.

  5. Cherylynne says:

    isnt it rare to have a pair that does serial killing together? Unless his dad or some family member is trying to protect him from damming evidence. what are the odds

  6. Cherylynne says:

    what are the odds that someone helped him & set the porch on fire to destroy evidence

  7. eggtreenews says:

    This is so horrifying I can hardly stand it. My thoughts and prayers go to the victims families and the community now reeling in terror because of this psycho.

    Who goes to so much trouble coming up with such an elaborate disposal site, but leaves a bloodbath at the actual crime scene? And what kind of of brainiac accomplice then goes back to said crime scene and lights the porch on fire after the scene has already been processed? What the hell is wrong with these people?!

    BTW, :lol: :lol: :lol: homicidal hobbit :lol: :lol: :lol: awesome….

  8. Jane says:

    It seems odd to be sending an 11:30 am text that she fed the dog. If ex boyfriend leaves at 3:40 am, I would imagine it’s understood she would feed the dog later. Sounds strange.

  9. lizzy says:

    Several things strike me about the timeline:

    *First there was just Tina. Then Stephanie came. Then the two kids. So all four would not have had to be overpowered at once.

    *If you have to go to work for a shift that begins at 4 p.m., how likely are you to want to have a telephone conversation with an EX at about 4:40 a.m.????

    *Only Greg would know if the “fed the dog” text was unusual or not. Depends on texting habits, if there had been issues about who fed it when, etc. But if he wasn’t going to be home that night, it wasn’t really relevant, was it? There’s no way to know who really sent it, is there? My first thought was that it was a code message. I won’t go any further with that thought for now.

    *She doesn’t show up for work, her truck is in the driveway, nobody comes to the door, her kids are nowhere to be seen, and everything appears normal? I’m giving thanks for my own wonderfully observant neighbors.

  10. VTLady79 says:

    The fire on the Herrmann family’s porch is really bugging me…

    I know it practically screams ‘accomplice!’, but I’m having a REALLY hard time believing that Hoffman had help carrying out this crime.

    For one thing, he seemed to be so odd, and such a loner, that he had very, very few friends.
    (Although, he did apparently have at least ONE girlfriend in the recent past, so maybe I’m off on my impression of his personality type???)

    It’s just that, according to numerous accounts from neighbors, he was (at minimum) “socially inept”, and eerie.
    I also read, an article which quoted a supervisor at his last job, who admitted he had ‘let Hoffman go’ from that tree-trimming job within a VERY short time, because, he was so entirely creeped out by him!

    His stalking of this family seems like it was his own, personal, private obsession–which, I assume– centered around the young girl, Sarah, whom he ultimately abducted.

    If he, in fact, harbored a twisted urge to jealously “possess” this child… I, personally, find it implausible that Hoffman would have been willing to allow another person (particularly a male) in on this crime, yah know?

    I say this, realizing that there *have* been cases of serial murderers and rapists who worked in pairs—Norris and Whitaker, in particular, come to mind— but, IMHO, it just doesn’t seem like *Hoffman* would have been this type…


  11. OhioSheryl says:

    lizzy – very good thoughts. I tend to agree with your first….Tina, then Stephanie, then the two kids.

    Agreed. I do not think the text was from her. You don’t even want to know what is rolling in my head at the moment.

  12. VTLady79 says:

    Well, not surprisingly, the porch fire has officially been declared arson by the Fire Marshall:


    *** *** **** ***

    I’m still not convinced Hoffman had an accomplice.

    Could this fire have been set by someone in the neighborhood?

    Someone who was sufficiently disturbed by the prospect of having to see that house every day, knowing what horror befell the victims within it?
    Maybe even ‘tween’/ teen- aged friends of Kody and Sarah, who live in the neighborhood?

    …Just a thought.

    As someone has already pointed out, it would make little sense for an accomplice to try to burn down the Herrmann home, in an attempt to cover his tracks, *after* investigators finished processing it as a crime scene.

  13. Cherylynne says:

    Lizzy that is a good point – they may have all come into the home at different times. He didnt have to take all of them on at once-that makes more sense. not that it cant be done as we have read on other crimes.

  14. Cherylynne says:

    why would someone text someone that they fed the dog? wouldn’t you hopefully do that every day about the same time or close ?

  15. Cherylynne says:

    he must have watched the family enough to know their names – otherwise how would be know who to text that message “fed the dog” to. I wonder how many others – but they have never been found- who would look in a hollowed out tree at that?
    Its rare that a man creeps out a man. His ex boss that let him go-I wonder what the grounds for dismissal was? ” dude you are creep’n me so I have to let you go ”

    Its a relief that at least this freak is off the street & will not return

  16. lizzy says:

    “Agreed. I do not think the text was from her. You don’t even want to know what is rolling in my head at the moment.

    It can’t be worse than what rolled in mine.

    Still pondering that earlier call, too, and what might have prompted it. Stated timing just doesn’t jibe for me. Who called whom?

    Sounds like alibis speak- ya know?

  17. OhioSheryl says:

    I have not seen anything stating why the Dairy Queen manager called the sheriff’s office when Herrman did not show up for work at 4pm Nov 10. Were they close friends and the manager worried?
    How was the manager able to enter the house on the 11th. Were keys available? Why not enter on the 10th when the sherrif was called?

    According to articles in the Columbus Dispatch, Hoffman grew up in Warren Ohio and moved to Mount Vernon in 1997. He Graduated in 1999 and moved to Colorado. He returned to Knox in 2007 after serving time in Colorado for the arson charges. This puts him in the Knox area for approx 5 years.

    It is interesting to me that Mount Vernon, Fredericktown, Gamblier, and Apple Valley areas are well known by Hoffman. It tells me that Hoffman “got around” during those 5 years and gauging from statments from locals who knew him, his “getting around’ was not for social purposes, but rather up to no good.

    The term “stragetic” was used when describing Hoffman’s thinking.
    Stragetic hiding spot chosen smells of premeditation.
    Stragetic also describes the prior comments: Tina, Stephanie, then the children. Stephanie was not part of Hoffman’s original plan.

    By the way Hoffman is my maiden name, but have no relation to Matthew J Hoffman that I know of at this time.

  18. OhioSheryl says:

    How did Hoffman leave Tina’s truck in Gamblier?
    Did he walk back 7 miles to get his own vehicle, hitchhiked, or someone drove him? Does Tina’s F150 have a tow package and he was able to tow either his vehicle or Stephanie’s Jeep back?

    Just things that make me say Hmmmm.

    Happy Thanksgiving Blink and friends.
    Now I must go baste the bird or my family will ban me from this computer!

  19. Jane says:

    It would be very interesting to hear what Hoffman’s past girlfriend(s) have to say re his personal life and habits. The man seemed to have a fair amount of money to have been an excon. I read where a friend said he was very frugal. Even so, a house and gym membership with little steady income? How so?

  20. JEN says:

    My stomach turns as I write this: Do we know why Stephanie came over? Is it possible that she was summoned via text, and not by Tina?

  21. Cookie says:

    FBI receiving inquiries about Hoffman:


    Mark my words, this is not over. Sometimes I can just tell you when I smell it, and although I have had zero time to work on that case, I am confident this was not just some triggered act. That mans DNA needs to be run through CODIS yesterday.

  22. VTLady79 says:

    Jane says:
    November 26, 2010 at 8:42 am
    “It would be very interesting to hear what Hoffman’s past girlfriend(s) have to say re his personal life and habits. The man seemed to have a fair amount of money to have been an excon. I read where a friend said he was very frugal. Even so, a house and gym membership with little steady income? How so?”



    Besides it being mysterious how a (seemingly) chronically unemployed/ underemployed, ex-con, was able to *finance* the purchase of a new home, I also find this fact to be down-right irksome!

    Keep in mind, this is a man who was ordered to re-pay damages to the victims of that Colorado Townhouse arson he committed, back in 2000, to the tune of several MILLION dollars…

    Apparently, after his parole, Hoffman made ‘some’ effort to begin repaying, as ordered by the court… but IIRC the total amount he managed to repay was *laughable*— WAY under $10,000.

    I’m thinking that his parents may have helped finance, and/or co-signed any mortgage or loan he used to purchase that property…

    I realize that in most situations, as long as the person who is ordered to repay a debt is making *some* kind of effort, wages aren’t garnished, nor property seized to make restitution….
    But, it still seems EXTREMELY unfair to me, that Hoffman seemed to be making some sort of personal financial gain, to become a property owner so soon after his 2006 parole (in THIS economy, no less!!!)… and yet, his Colorado victims have seem very little of the restitution they were awarded by the court.

  23. A Texas Grandfather says:

    In order for these guys to operate someone must be their enabler. Parole out of state to a family members area or residence is a mistake and in most cases allows the perp to continue with their crazy criminal ways.

    North Carolina is a major offender in paroling to other states and now it appears that Colorado is joining the list.

    Everyone needs to become vigilant about who lives in their neighborhood. Use whatever means are available to identify a new single male in the area and his background.

  24. Anon says:

    Can you elaborate? I will keep it private.

  25. Jane says:

    Were Mr. Hoffman’s neighbors ever made aware that he had been released from prison?

  26. OhioSheryl says:

    Latest update on Hoffman from the Mount Vernon News.


  27. Lilah says:

    Thank you, OhioSheryl. It’s been frustrating waiting to hear more about this story. I’ve been looking for new info and haven’t found anything other than what the article you posted says. I like that the story you posted better than the AP’s update, whicj I’ve been seeing everywhere. The AP story includes the line, “The attorney for the only suspect in a kidnapping and triple killing in a rural Ohio community says the man is off suicide watch in jail and maintaining a positive attitude.

    Are you kidding me? Ugh.

  28. Karey says:

    I’m inclined to agree with Lizzy. The victims likely entered the house at different times, with the exception of Sara and Kody, who would’ve arrived home together since they attended the same school. I’m wondering if Sprang and Herrmann had some plans together, for lunch maybe. Didn’t I read that Sprang lived around the corner from the family? So, she must’ve planned to do the driving (otherwise, she could have walked to Herrmann’s) and arrived to pick up her friend. By then, I’m sure, Hoffman was already in the house and had killed Herrmann and the dog. When Sprang went inside to find Herrmann, Hoffman overpowered and killed her. Hoffmann was determined to stay until the children came home, because it was Sara he wanted. He likely hid whenever someone entered the house and snuck up behind them. The concentration of blood in the bathroom suggests Hoffman cut up the bodies there (reminiscent of the Zahra Baker case). I wonder if he stayed at the house all night, then transported the bodies in Herrmann’s truck so no evidence would be found in his vehicle? In that case, he must have parked his car near Kenyon College before walking back to the house to transport the bodies, then returned to the area where he parked his car. He had probably just gotten into his car when LE found the abandoned pickup and questioned Hoffman. So, he may have been just minutes away from being caught in the stolen vehicle. And, if LE had entered the house after being alerted the previous night, Hoffman may have been there. IIRC, though, one of Hoffman’s neighbors reported seeing him carrying a backpack to and from his house, so he must’ve gone home at some point. The bag(s) may have contained gear he needed to hoist the bodies up the tree and inside the hollow trunk.

    MOO. I doubt that we’ll learn any specifics until the trial.

    To everyone here, have a safe and prosperous New Year! I hope 2011 is the year many of the unsolved cases will be solved and the pending cases will be adequately resolved.

  29. Karey says:

    It just occurred to me that Hoffman may have taken along a change of clothes in the backpack his neighbor saw him carrying. With so much blood throughout the house, it would’ve been impossible for him not to track blood with him unless he cleaned up before leaving Herrmann’s house. The crime was very calculated, so I’m sure Hoffman went well prepared.

  30. landlmom says:

    indicted on Murder and Rape

    snipped from below link:
    The only suspect in a kidnapping and triple-slaying in Ohio has been indicted on charges of aggravated murder and rape.


  31. landlmom says:

    another article with a little bit of more information:

    From above link:
    The indictment did not carry death penalty specifics because of the wishes of the victims’ families, according to the prosecutor’s office.

    Hoffman could be sentenced to life in prison, without parole, if he is convicted of aggravated murder.

  32. Anon says:

    Can anyone explain why he would be charged with burglary? Doesn’t that make it sound as though the murders were not premeditated? Or does burglary cover breaking and entering, and it doesn’t have any bearing on whether he can be held accountable for premeditated murder?

    I am not at all convinced that Hoffman acted alone, and that charge gives me pause I may be right, as in, did someone else give him access to the house and the burglary is what he took from it??


  33. landlmom says:

    In the statement, the teen shared memories of the victims and said she’s no longer scared of Hoffman.

    “This is so sickening, Matthew, to know you even had the guts to do this to a family,” she said in the statement.

    Hoffman also was charged with abuse of a corpse and with tampering with evidence for allegedly taking clothes and bedding from the woman’s house because he sought to remove them as possible evidence.

    Prosecutors were not pursuing a death sentence at the wishes of the victims’ families.

    snipped from link:

  34. landlmom says:

    interesting remark from the public defender:

    He received nine years each for his guilty pleas to burglary, kidnapping and rape, four years for tampering with evidence and 11 months for abuse of a corpse. The sentences will run concurrent with the life sentences for murder.

    Hoffman appeared in court in blue scrubs with a dark prison jacket labeled “inmate worker.” His hair was messy and he was unshaven.

    “The family deserves to know this a random burglary that went terribly, terribly wrong,” Bruce Malek, Hoffman’s public defender, said following sentencing. Hoffman did not specifically target those he killed, Malek said.

    here is the link:

    Random burglary my ass. Not targeted specifically? That is utter bullshit, excuse my language.

    Someone tell me this investigation is not over.

  35. landlmom says:

    Snipped from recent article – link appears at bottom:

    Prosecutors also revealed Thursday how they were able to link Hoffman to the case. They said investigators at the crime scene discovered a grocery bag that seemed out of place. There were garbage bags and ties inside the bag.

    Detectives used codes on the bags to track where they were purchased – and from there, they figured out the time the bags were purchased and obtained store surveillance video. The video allowed police to track the purchaser to his car and get his license plate number. The registration had Hoffman’s house address.

    When police went to Hoffman’s home, they found the teen girl tied up in the basement.

    Prosecutors did not pursue a death sentence at the wishes of the victims’ families.

  36. jen says:

    I’m so pissed reading the complete crap about it being a random burglary. And if the surviving victim believes he had help, I think they sure as hell had better at least pretend to keep the investigation open. To read the word “dismissed” in connection with the prosecutor’s view of the victim’s opinion has me so fired up. How dare they!

    This girl is my hero. She kicks ass to be able to show up there today and confront that piece of shit.

    I believe those comments were from his PD.

    However, if the investigation is considered closed to my satisfaction, I am headed there.

  37. mynamehere says:

    When I heard Mont Vernon murder, I thought of the Mont Vernon NH case where a mother was murdered and her daughter critically wounded. The perps then ransacked the home. Their intent was burglary AND murder. One of the witnesses died before he could testify. I believe he took his own life. He did nothing to assist the perpetrators. I cannot understand why he would take his own life.
    They may call this case a random burglary, but I don’t believe it is. Why the porch fire on the house? What was someone trying to destroy? Was there some evidence overlooked that was on or under that porch?

    Hoffman stuffing the bodies in a tree likely involved using a pulley system to get them up there. I’ve used such pulleys to get hay upstairs in a barn. It take two people. One up, another down because you must direct the object from above into the barn after it is loaded below. You can’t just hoist an item from a branch and direct it into the trunk of the tree. He could have disposed of the bodies in a much easier way. It likely took premeditation to think about placing bodies inside a hollow tree. he didn’t likely come up w/ the idea off the top of his head. A burglary gone awry would not have ended up with a girl kidnapped and raped and her family and friends cut up and placed in a tree. Why did he bring the garbage bags and ties? He was going to rob the house and use garbage bags to remove everything and then just happened to have them there handy for his unintended dismemberment of the bodies?
    Interesting profile: arsonist, burglar, murderer and rapist. He didn’t set fire to the home, yet has a history of arson to conceal crimes, why did he not set the house ablaze? Why was it set on fire after his incarceration and after evidence was collected? Arsonists may be sexually inadequate and find sexual excitement at their fire-setting, so I can fathom his transferring his sexual thoughts to the girl. but this list of behaviors seems like two persons rather than one. His remorse after being caught fits the profile of an arsonist, but this was a heinous triple murder with dismemberment. Sorry. This took two people, behaviorally and logically.

    Keep in mind it was the defense attorney that said that, but I adamantly and vehemently agree, he had assistance.

    There’s more.

  38. landlmom says:

    The latest: I wonder why he feels the need to keep reiterating it was random:
    “An Ohio man who killed two women and an 11-year-old boy during a home burglary and dropped their dismembered bodies down a hollow tree confesses the house was a random target, picked because no neighbors were close and the garage door was left slightly open.”

    Here is the link:

    Know of a lot of burglaries where the burglar takes nothing and hacks up the family?

    Who started the porch on fire when he was in custody?


  39. landlmom says:

    a couple more links: the first link provides a small picture of where he kept the girl captive.
    1.) http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2011/02/08/knox-county-killer-of-3-says-burglary-was-intent.html?sid=101

    2.) http://www.10tv.com/live/content/local/stories/2011/02/07/story-mount-vernon-matthew-hoffman-slayings-confession.html?sid=102


  40. landlmom says:

    my two cents… I never bought into the statement by the defense attorney that this was a “robbery, gone wrong”. I am no expert, but who goes from robber to mass murder in .3 seconds, plus how do you kill two women, a dog, and the boy, but then all of a sudden have a change of heart and save the girl?
    Just my opinion, but it doesn’t add up in my mind.

  41. OhioSheryl says:

    I will be very disappointed if there is not more details to be released that would help us understand why LE considers this case closed. I need more explanation as to how he managed to complete the murders and disposal of the bodies supposedly alone. His statements do not add up for me as to why he chose this house and family.

  42. GraceintheHills says:

    I have no doubt whatsoever that Hoffman targeted this family specifically for the young girl. God only knows what fate she would have suffered had LE not intervened when they did. This was not a ‘burglary gone wrong’, and he is clearly lying through his teeth when he says he “never meant to hurt them.” He strikes me as someone who simply wanted to know what it would feel like to kill and “process” (to use his sick words) some human beings after ‘practicing’ on animals for so long. This crime, along with his previous arson and torture of animals shows that he is a classic sociopath, at the very least. But, I also think there is a whole lot more besides antisocial pathology there. What a sick monster.

    I was really hoping you would weigh in here.

    For the life of me, why would the DA allow this to be treated as a “burglary gone wrong”?


  43. GraceintheHills says:


    Well, they claim he burglarized another home in the area by slipping in under a partially open garage door, but I’m still not buying it. Perhaps it is easier on the victim if she hears the message that she was not specifically targeted. That his fascination with her is not the reason her mom and brother were killed.

    My heart breaks for this child.

    IDK, Blink. I am betting this perp spent many nights and days camped out across the street from the Hermann home carefully studying their habits and watching the young girl.

    On the other hand, I also believe this crime is so twisted it is very difficult to untangle it and truly comprehend his motives. There are many things in his statement that defy logic. Just one example: he says he wanted to burn the house down to destroy the evidence. If that is true, why ‘process’ the bodies?

    I suspect he chose the family, the method, and (no doubt) the hollowed out tree in advance. The crime in totality wreaks of a horrific blending of his twisted fantasies. How can any caring and compassionate person even begin to comprehend what drove this man’s actions? You were spot on when you referred to him as a “homicidal hobbit.” This is so much more horrific than our worst nightmares.

    May God hold his little victim in the palm of His hand and gently guide her down the path of healing.

    Thinking about her brings tears to my eyes, so I’ll stop now.

    This is not his first rodeo. He spent 7 years in prison for grand theft, burglary and arson.
    I do not know why I feel so strongly about this case, but I do. There is more to this.

    According to the Uncle, the BF told him that they had someone watching them for a while sitting on a tree stump, wth?


  44. GraceintheHills says:

    “This is not his first rodeo. He spent 7 years in prison for grand theft, burglary and arson.
    I do not know why I feel so strongly about this case, but I do. There is more to this.

    According to the Uncle, the BF told him that they had someone watching them for a while sitting on a tree stump, wth?

    Angel Maturino Resendez, the “Railroad Killer”, cased many of his victims’ residences before he entered their homes and murdered them. His motives were bizarre but overtly self-serving, as one would suspect. Of note, his victims were spread over several states.

    I agree that this is not this guy’s first time at the rodeo, Blink. I mean, who commits a crime of this magnitude the first time out of the chute?! I certainly hope LE/FBI have plans to keep the investigation open.

    BTW, who DID try to start the fire at the Hermann home? Are they even investigating this?

    Blink, you feel so strongly about this case because you have razor sharp instincts when it comes to these monsters. If you think there is more; there IS more.

    Ty Grace There are quite a few loose ends here, putting it mildly, after reading the SA narratives.


  45. Sister says:

    Blink, I have not heard such controlled anger in your voice since Christine Sheddy. Please take care of yourself.

  46. Jane says:

    I also have a hard time believing Hoffman was able to commit these murders on his own. Could LE be suggesting the case is closed in order to maybe further their investigation without someone knowing?

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