MOUNT VERNON — For the first time in the week-long search for three missing Howard residents, Knox County Sheriff David Barber admitted a receipt was found during the investigation that shows suspect Matthew Hoffman purchased a tarp and trash bags at the Mount Vernon Walmart.
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“T-shirt, trash bags, a tarp and a deli sandwich,” Barber said were the items Hoffman purchased but he would not comment on when the purchase took place.
Investigators continue to gather evidence believed to be linked to the disappearance of Tina Herrmann, 32; her son, Kody Maynard, 11; and her friend, Stephanie Sprang, 41. Tuesday’s discoveries found “significant” evidence including a tarp and trash bags found in an area near Gambier where Herrmann’s truck was found last Thursday.
Barber said the area had already been searched by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office but new information led to a more thorough search of the area, including the use of the Central Ohio K-9 Unit. He would not speculate if this new evidence holds the answers to whether or not those missing are still alive.
“They are important evidence to us, but for me to speculate on the involvement of this evidence is premature,” Barber said. “We will determine the relationship between those particular items and the whole case.”
Herrmann’s daughter, Sarah Maynard, 13, was found alive on Sunday in a house on Columbus Road after she was abducted from her home on Wednesday, Nov. 10. The owner of the house, Matthew Hoffman, was arrested and charged with one count of kidnapping. He remains in the Knox County Jail under a suicide watch and with a $1 million bond.
Hoffman appeared in Mount Vernon Municipal Court on Tuesday via video wearing a suicide gown. Barber said Hoffman indicated to jail staff and investigators that he had thought of suicide. He will remain under a suicide watch until a health care professional says the action is no longer necessary.
Investigators are asking the community to try and recognized any of the vehicles involved in the case including Herrmann’s F-150 pickup truck, Sprang’s silver Jeep or Hoffman’s Toyota Yaris.
“We want people to think back to last Wednesday, last Thursday, did they see these vehicles? Maybe at a restaurant or parked along the road somewhere. Give us that information; let us follow up on that. There’s a ton of rumors out there. ... We can’t speculate on that information. Just be assured that any information we receive will be diligently followed up on.”
Barber said the phone lines have been flooded with tips and again encourages the public to report any piece of information they might have, regardless of how insignificant it may seem.
Information should be relayed to the KCSO’s TIPs line at 888-363-8477.
“The phones are ringing off the hook,” Barber said. “Be assured that all of that information, no matter how small it may sound, is being followed up by not only detectives from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office but Delaware County (Sheriff’s Office), Franklin County (Sheriff’s Office), the Mount Vernon Police Department, the FBI, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and numerous other agencies who have partnered with us in this effort.”
Barber did say that Sarah Maynard is with her father and is “doing well under the circumstances.”
He is expected to release photos this afternoon of Herrmann, Kody Maynard and Sprang to see if the public can recognized any of the clothing they were believed to have been wearing the last time they were seen.