Family, Community Mourns Knox County Tragedy


UPDATED: Monday November 22, 2010 6:32 AM

Family and friends of Tina Herrmann, her son Kody Maynard, and family friend Stephanie Sprang said they have been overwhelmed by an outpouring of community support.

A memorial has been growing at Herrmann's home, the scene of the crime, with balloons, teddy bears and flowers, 10TV's Jason Frazer reported on Friday.

The bodies of Tina Herrmann, 32; her son, Kody Maynard, 11; and family friend Stephanie Sprang, 41, were found Thursday afternoon in a wooded area of the Kokosing Wildlife Preserve.

The Licking County coroner was performing autopsies on Friday to determine how the three were killed, while investigators worked to build a case against the only suspect in the slayings, Matthew Hoffman.

Hoffman, 30, has not been charged with murder, but was being held on $1 million bond, accused of kidnapping Herrmann's daughter, Sarah Maynard.

Sarah Maynard, 13, was found alive on Sunday, bound and gagged, inside Hoffman's Mount Vernon home.

Sprang's eldest son, Michael Kupiec, said nothing could have prepared him for the discovery of his mother's body stuffed inside a hollow tree.

"It was just a shock," Kupiec said. "I was speechless that day. I was searching and searching and come to find out we weren't even looking in the right spots."

Herrmann's boyfriend, Greg Borders, said he is overwhelmed by the support.

WEB EXTRA: Send Condolences, Well Wishes To Family Of Knox County Victims | SLIDESHOWS:  Knox County Trees |  Bodies Found |  Vehicles Connected With Case |  Hoffman In Court |  Case Timeline | Tuesday's Search |   Park Search   |   Images From Mount Vernon Neighborhood Four Missing | Search For Missing People | VIDEO EXTRAS: Sheriff David Barber's Nov. 18 News Conference

"It's been amazing, honestly, everybody has been involved in the search just showing that they care about us and thinking about us our family and everything that has happened, it has been amazing," Borders said.

Borders said it is hard to walk in the home he shared with Herrmann and her two children after investigators said the three died there.

"I just hope they pray for Sarah and not remember how Tina, Stephanie and Kody, how things ended with them, but how they lived their lives," Borders said.

Kupiec said while he is not angry with Hoffman, he wants to see him brought to justice.

"Our family and Tina's family, we're all thankful and appreciate everything. And we show our support for the gratitude for all of the support we have out here," Kupiec said. "We're not saying it's a closure until we know who did it. We know who did it but we want to know the specifics."

The search began on Nov. 12 after Valerie Haythorn called to tell sheriff's deputies what she found inside Herrmann's Apple Valley home.

Haythorn, Herrmann's friend and boss, was worried after she missed two days of work at a Mount Vernon Dairy Queen, 10TV's Andy Hirsch reported. 

She went to Herrmann's home and climbed through a back window to check on her friend. She said from the amount of blood she found inside, she knew deep down that she would never see her friend again.

"From what I saw, we still had a lot of hope and faith and we prayed every day, but I had to reconcile myself with the fact that she was gone," Haythorn said. "We have closure and I know now that she's not suffering because, if she were alive and she were suffering that would be worse."

Cards and other donations for the family will be accepted at the Dairy Queen where Herrmann worked. The staff will donate $1 from every sale of a Blizzard on Saturday to the family, Hirsch reported.

Knox County Sheriff David Barber said Hoffman revealed information that led investigators to the remains of three missing people.

Neither Barber, nor Knox County Prosecutor John C. Thatcher, would say whether Hoffman confessed to the slayings, 10 Investigates' Paul Aker reported.

Ohio State University law Professor Doug Berman said there probably was not time to hammer out a formalized deal in this case, but it is likely prosecutors used the threat of the death penalty to pressure Hoffman.

"Certainly there might have been conversations that said, "Look, it's going to be harder for us prosecutors -- to have any sympathy for your client if it turns out he's done these things and we're spending weeks and months still searching for the bodies," Berman said.

Thatcher said Friday that because this is an ongoing case, he could not comment on any statements Hoffman may have made.

Hoffman is scheduled to be in court on Tuesday.

Watch 10TV News HD and refresh 10TV.com for continuing coverage.

Previous Stories:

November 19, 2010: New Details Released On Discovery Of Bodies
November 19, 2010: Hundreds Join Vigil For Slain Women, Boy
November 18, 2010: Remains Of Women, 11-Year-Old, Found
November 18, 2010: Clothing Found During Knox County Search
November 17, 2010:  Sheriff: Reality 3 Missing May Be Dead 'More Prevalent'
November 17, 2010: Knox Co. Search Enters Seventh Day
November 16, 2010: Suspected Kidnapper Bought Trash Bags, T-Shirt, Tarps
November 16, 2010:  Families Still Hopeful 3 Will Be Found Alive
November 15, 2010: Mother Of Suspected Kidnapper Says He Is 'Loner'
November 15, 2010: Sheriff: 3 Missing People Could Be Dead
November 15, 2010:  Police Block Off Park As Mount Vernon Search Continues
November 15, 2010:  Suspected Kidnapper's Past Includes Arson Conviction
November 14, 2010:   Missing Girl Found Safe; Man In Custody
November 13, 2010:  Search For 4 Grows More Intense
November 13, 2010:  Support Growing To Find Missing Family, Friend
November 12, 2010:  Search Continues For Missing Women, Children
November 12, 2010:  4 Missing From Knox Co.; Discovery Of Pickup Prompts Kenyon College Lockdown