November 10, 2010
Mount Vernon, Ohio
Matthew Hoffman kills a woman, her 11-year-old-son, her friend, and kidnaps and sexually assaults the her 13-year-old daughter
Hoffman had a seeming obsession with trees and leaves, stockpiling leaves in plastic bags neatly stacked floor to ceiling in his bathroom and keeping a tarp with leaves three feet deep in his living room. It was theorized he kept these to use as an accelerant to burn his house down if needed.
He killed Tina Herrmann (32), her son Kody Maynard (11), and Tina’s friend Stephanie Sprang (41) before kidnapping Tina’s 13-year-old daughter, holding her hostage for several days and raping her. He dismembered the bodies of his victims, hiding them in a hollow tree and kept the teenage girl in a garbage bag with holes cut in it as a makeshift diaper. The girl was not told of her family’s deaths until after her rescue and had been told by Hoffman she would be released by Christmas.
From an excerpt from Hoffman’s confession, courtesy of The Columbus Dispatch:
I parked my car in Howard and walked from there to the house. I got to the woods across the street from the house a little after midnight. I slept across the street from the house that night in a sleeping bag. I woke up at daylight. There were two vehicles parked at the house during the night, and I saw that the gray car had left. I went back to sleep until around nine on Wednesday morning. I stayed there until a woman left in a pickup truck. This meant there were no vehicles at the house. I walked across the street and tried to enter the front door, but it was locked. I then went in through the garage door. The garage door was not closed all the way so I slid under it into the garage. I kicked the door into the house from the garage. By this time it was approximately 10:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.
I looked around the house to make sure no one was there. Even if I did not take anything, there was a certain amount of excitement in being in someone else’s home without them being there. I was looking for anything of value that could be carried out easily, i.e. money, jewelry, etc. I did not find anything of any real value. I was getting ready to leave as I had been there approximately an hour, but someone pulled into the driveway. I was back in the bedrooms when she entered the house and was unable to exit without breaking a window and trying to jump out. I had brought my knife for a certain amount of intimidation in case I ran inot someone and needed to make an escape.
When she made her way back into the bedrooms I confronted her and made her get onto the bed lying face down. I believe that we were in her bedroom. I had a blackjack, I was going to try to knock her out. I hit her a couple of times in the head, but this would not knock her out. It was not doing the job, and I started panicking. The next thing that I knew her friend came into the bedroom. I have no idea when she got there, what she was doing there, and how she gained access. The other woman yelled at me, there were now two to deal with and I did not know what to do.
I grabbed the knife that I had put down on the nightstand and stabbed the woman on the bed, through her back, twice. I chased the other woman down (Stephanie) and stabbed her a couple times in the chest. Instead of running out of the house, she had run into another bedroom. I believe this bedroom was for a girl due to the contents of the room. I then went back to the other bedroom where the first woman was located and stabbed her a couple more times. I could tell that both women were now dead.
At this time I was in a total state of shock. I wandered around the house slowly coming to the realization of what I had done and how bad it was. During this time I killed the dog because it would not stop barking. After a while I came to the conclusion that I was going dispose of the bodies and burn the house down. At first I thought about loading the bodies into the vehicle, driving it into Foundation Park Pond, I would swim away as the vehicles sank, but I felt that it was too cold and I might not be able to make it out of the water. I decided to process the bodies and dispose of them inside of a tree that I knew was hollow. I took the bodies into the bathroom and begin processing the bodies to dispose of them. I used garbage bags from within the house and placed the bodies inside.
Once I had finished processing the bodies, I moved the Jeep into the garage to load up the bodies. I still had a couple of bags to load into the Jeep when I heard the children come into the house. … I confronted the children, and the girl instantly ran to a bedroom. I stabbed the boy in the chest a couple times. I ran into the bedroom after the girl to make sure she was not on the phone for help. … I saw the girl was not on the phone, and I could not bring myself to kill her.
I did not enter the house to kill those people. I did not know a single one of them. I did not know their names, and I did not know who all lived at the house. I chose the house to break into because there was not any close neighbors, and I noticed the garage door was ajar. I chose the house the day before. I did not plan for any of this to happen. I did not want to kill anyone, and I tried to just knock the first woman out so that I would be able to escape. This was not working, a second woman showed up, and things quickly spiraled out of control. They kept escalating and I was panicking. I only chose to process the bodies to make their disposal easier.