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Three missing in Mt. Vernon kidnapping

Officials from the Knox County Sheriff’s Department are continuing their search to find a missing woman, her 10-year-old son and a family friend in Mount Vernon, Ohio.† 32-year-old Tina Herrmann, her 10-year-old son Kody Maynard and her 41-year-old friend, Stephanie Sprang, all went missing more than five days ago, and although authorities remain optimistic while continuing the search, the consensus that the three may not be found is beginning to cross minds within the Sheriff’s Department. In a statement released by the Knox County Sheriff’s Department, Mount Vernon Sheriff David Barber stated, “We have to be realistic about the possibility that these folks are dead.”

The three, along with 13-year- old Sarah Maynard, were thought to be abducted from their home sometime last Wednesday. The kidnapping suspect is Matthew J. Hoffman. In an early Sunday morning raid involving the S.W.A.T. team, authorities were fortunate to find Maynard, who was bound and gagged inside the basement of Hoffman’s home. Sarah was released from the hospital Monday, after being evaluated and treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

According to CNN, Barber stated, “Sarah is with family and is doing well,” He said. “She is a very brave little girl.”

Barber would not say how authorities learned that the girl was inside Hoffman’s home.† However, Barber did comment, “We were hopeful that we would find more than one, but our information was most definitely that Sarah was going to be in that house,” reported Central Ohio’s TV 10 News.

Unfortunately, Barber also explained that the blood found in Hoffmann’s home coupled with the length of time the three have been missing makes the situation more serious. According to TV 10 News, Barber called the amount of blood “unusual.” “It is obvious that someone was injured in the house,” he said.

Hoffman faces kidnapping charges and is not cooperating with the investigation, Barber said.

Police said they do not believe Hoffman was working with an accomplice. Barber stated it was not a home invasion, but rather that “either they knew Hoffman or Hoffman made himself known to them,” according to CNN.

In 2001, Hoffman was sentenced to eight years in prison after being convicted of setting fire to a Steamboat Springs, Colo. condominium complex.† The fire caused $2 million in damage.† Investigators said that in 2000 he used 10 gallons of gasoline to commit the arson.

No one has seen or heard from the two missing women or child since last Wednesday when Hermann failed to report to work at a Dairy Queen in Mount Vernon. The next day, both of Hermann’s children were absent from school. Herrmann failed to report to work at a Dairy Queen in Mount Vernon on Wednesday. A deputy went to her home twice in Howard, about nine miles east of Mount Vernon, and saw her pickup there. No one answered the door, though lights were on in the home. A Dairy Queen manager went into the home on Thursday and found blood inside. Herrmann’s truck was found Thursday night near Kenyon College in Gambier.

Hoffman’s neighbor Donna Davis said that he moved into the five-bedroom home about a year ago, the same home where Sarah Maynard was found last Sunday.

They said that he lived alone and had a history of strange behavior that made them uncomfortable.

Davis described, “He was a weirdo,” reported CNN.† “If you look back here in the tree, there’s a hammock where he would sit and watch people.† He’s just different.” Hoffman was expected to be in court on Monday.

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