Four counts of aggravated murder and the highest bond ever set against for a defendant in Crawford county history. That's what a Bucyrus man is facing after he made his initial appearance in court.
Police say Donald Hoffman admitted to killing four men and on Thursday, the victim's families got to see him for the first time.
Sorrow and heartbreak wore on the faces of every person who walked into the courtroom; families suddenly shattered by a man who police say, many of the victims knew.
“He was a loving and caring person, not to just his children, but to anyone and everyone," said Donna Hardymon, the daughter of 67-year-old Freelin Hensley, who was found dead in his home. “He is a good man. He did not deserve this at all. Our family is hurt because we're lost,” she said.
41-year old Donald Hoffman of Bucyrus stands charged with four counts of aggravated murder. He appeared via video in court. Police say he confessed to the crimes, and during questioning, understood what he had done. “(He) seemed of sound mind and sane to me,” said Bucyrus police Chief David Koepke.
Donald Hoffman appears in court on Thursday
10TV has learned Hoffman is a former ex-con with convictions for assault, burglary, passing bad checks - which he is currently on parole for - theft, and domestic violence.
To make sure he never leaves his prison cell, the judge set the highest bond ever recorded in Crawford County: $10 million; $2.5 million for each count.
For the family of 65-year-old Darrell Lewis - who was also found dead in his home - says it's difficult to express the grief of losing their brother. “I can't even hardly express it. Part of me was angry about how someone could go around from place to place, going around killing people,” said Lee Lewis.
Also killed during the violence were 55-year-old Billy Jack Chatman and 65-year-old Gerald Smith.
Bucyrus murder victims
If Hoffman is sentenced to die, he would be the first person in Crawford County to receive a death sentence since 1991.
In an effort to bring healing to the family and the city, a prayer vigil was held at City Hall shortly after Hoffman appeared in court.
“Our peace has been shattered in a way that has shaken us to our core," said Bucyrus Mayor Jeff Reser. Dozens of citizens locked hands and prayed that the evil that struck their city would not tear it apart.
The prayer vigil was an attempt for Bucyrus to begin healing from a crime spree that took the lives of four people and the innocence of a small town. “It makes us cynical, it brings us together, it’s shed our innocence, but whatever it takes, we will get through it", said Jenny Vermillion.
Among those who attended the vigil was Sarah Lewis, whose father was among those killed. She was in court as her dad's alleged killer appeared via video to hear the charges against him.
“He had a dirty smirk on his face. I wanted to reach through that computer monitor and punch him in his face", she said.
Now, a grand jury will hear evidence in his case and an indictment will then be filed. It will be at that point when Hoffman will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty to the charges against him.
It's a crime that has rocked the city of Bucyrus and in the words of the police chief, “one of the worst crimes in the city's history.”